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Chinese Club Hosts Lunar New Year Celebration

During the first week back on campus, beginning on Jan. 20, Beloiters discovered and rediscovered their friends, roommates, professors, classes and rhythms of college life. For many students, coming back from winter break marked somewhat of a conclusion to the long month of festivities. However, some celebrations, such as Spring Festival, had yet to begin. The Spring Festival, also known as the Lunar New Year or Chinese New Year, is an annual celebration that usually falls on the second new moon after the winter solstice. On the first Friday back from break, Beloit College had a celebration of its own to mark the occasion. Around 50 students gathered in Mayer Hall to attend the Spring Festival Gala on Friday, January 24 from 7 to 8:30 p.m. The event was put on as a collaboration between (Duke) Ke Ding’23, Chinese Club, Professor of Chinese Daniel Youd and Adjunct Assistant Professor of Chinese (Elaine) Ying Yue. 

Audience members were treated to a fantastic lineup that ranged greatly in regards to medium. The gala opened with a video directed by Ding and edited by psychology major and Communications photographer Yusuke Hatano’20, which featured interviews with Beloit students speaking about their experiences with the Spring Festival back home, their new appreciation for the holiday after taking Chinese classes, and Assistant Professor of Education Jingjing Lou, Youd and Yue, and a final cameo from Beloit College President Scott Bierman. Following the video was a harp solo from Lucy Li’21, a dance performance by Angela Li’22, a music duo by Siyu Sun’22 and Zhengyue Li’20, sung performances by the first and second-year Chinese classes, and the Zhong Yi Kung Fu group from Madison. 

 Performers at the Chinese Lunar New Year

Across the lineup was an undeniable sense of intention, community, and unison. “I had the idea to have this big celebration for Spring Festival in August when preparations began. I wanted to have it because the Spring Festival is not only for Chinese, it’s also for so many other Asian countries like Vietnam, Singapore, or Malaysia,” Ding confirmed to the Round Table. An event like this serves a dual purpose: on the one hand, an enrichment of the school’s cultural appreciation and understanding, and on the other, an opportunity for students to create a space for themselves, and honor what is meaningful to them. Ding told the Round Table,“as a Freshman, we have 13 students from China, and they come from different places from China. And the Spring Festival is just like how [people in the United States] celebrate Christmas. It is important for us, especially because we are not gathered together with family and friends. We need something for us.”

The Spring Festival Gala was not without a few challenges. Sound and conflicting events seemed to be the most prominent issues. “I wish some of the performers could’ve been a little louder,” said Liam Warren’23, a soloist in the first-year Chinese class’s performance. Ding noted a similar concern: “Because we did not have microphones, it was hard to hear the presenters.” Another issue was that of the date of the event in regards to the academic calendar. The nature of Spring Festival makes it so that it typically falls at the end of January or beginning of February. This year it fell closer to the end of January, and thus the beginning of classes. “It’s the first Friday of the new semester; everyone is so busy adjusting to schedules,” Ding told the Round Table. Ding also said, “many things are not perfect, but it was the first time, and all in all, was pretty good.”

“It’s the first time for us to have a Spring Festival Gala, but I promise you it is not the last. We will continue it year by year,” Ding told the Round Table. If this is true, Beloit is lucky to have this event embedded in its long list of traditions, and happenings. Mark your calendars for 2021, Beloiters, and have a happy Chinese New Year.

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