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Entering the year of the dragon: SVC hosted a Chinese New Year festival

By Elizabeth Van Pilsum, Arts and Culture Editor

Originally Published February 27, 2024

Every year, the Chinese New Year occurs based on the lunar calendar, with the first night falling the night of the second new moon of each calendar year and the celebrations lasting for the next fifteen days. In 2024, the Chinese New Year date was Feb.10, ushering in the Year of the Dragon. Saint Vincent College (SVC) celebrated the New Year with a campus-wide festival on Saturday, Feb. 17.

The Chinese New Year festival featured performances from community members in the Carey Center Lounge. (SOURCE: GENG)

The evening was sponsored by The Loe Center for China Studies, the Multicultural Club, Campus Life, Parkhurst Dining Services, Department of Modern and Classical Languages, and the School of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences. The festivities began with Chinese food in the Community Center for dinner, including egg fried rice, egg rolls, and fried tofu. Following dinner, the official celebration began in the Carey Center Lounge with commencement speeches from community leaders at 7:30 p.m. Dr. Sophia Geng, Chair Professor of China Studies and Director of the Loe Center, is one such leader who shared her thoughts on the event.

“Thank you so much for being here together with us to celebrate the Chinese New Year,” Geng said. “This is the beginning of the year of the dragon, which stands for strength, leadership, and prosperity. The Lunar New Year is really a time for families and communities to come together and to celebrate the renewing and growth.”

Craft and activity tables were open in the Lounge, inviting attendees to participate in folding origami, writing Chinese calligraphy, and more. Parkhurst also set up a table with Chinese food in the back of the Lounge for guests to sample. At 7:40, performances began, emceed by David Collins, senior English and communication major. Collins became involved because he is taking a Chinese and Chinese American Folklore course with Geng.

Craft tables, featuring activities such as Chinese calligraphy, were set up in the Lounge for attendees. (SOURCE: GENG)

“Doctor Geng has been so eagerly promoting cultural appreciation and celebration,” Collins said. “We've been learning a Chinese folk song in class that we performed at the event, and I was excited to be asked to emcee the rest of the night as well.”

Collins sang “Mo Li Hua” with his classmates as the first performance, and then he introduced the rest of the acts. The acts included singing, stand-up comedy, a cello performance, and a poetry reading. Geng emailed the SVC faculty in January searching for people willing to perform, including students, staff, and other community members, and she was successful in recruiting a variety of people to be involved.

“I was so pleased with the participation we got from various clubs on campus, from the multicultural club to the men's rugby team to the beekeeping club,” Collins said. “We had a variety of cultures and cultural music represented which really epitomized the intention of the evening. I'm very glad I got to be a part of it.”  

Stacie Ramos, junior marketing and digital art major, was aperformer who sang a song popular in the Philippines with Dr. Stephen Jodis, Boyer School Dean, and his wife Maria Jodis. 

“I think the event was super fun and it was nice to see Asian culture here in Latrobe,” Ramos said. “Chinese New Year is really big in the Philippines, but I never celebrated it before.”

“I was fortunate to meet Doctor Jodis and his wife through my Learning Seminar professor, Doctor Breid, in my sophomore year,” Ramos said. “Mrs. Jodis is Filipino, and she asked me to perform "Dahil Sa Iyo" with them. We practiced once together in Luparello Hall before the event. This year Mrs. Jodis and Dr. Jodis chose the song, but I think I'll request one of my favorites if we are invited again next year!"

After the scheduled performances were finished, there was an open mic for anyone else who wanted to be involved, welcoming more of the community onstage. Overall, the people involved were happy with how the event went. While it has not been confirmed that this festival will return annually, the community is looking ahead for another opportunity to celebrate one another and SVC’s cultural diversity.


 

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