Students celebrate Chinese new year

January 25, 2012

In a sold-out event, nearly 300 people gathered to celebrate the Chinese New Year Sunday evening at Indiana State University.

A diverse group of attendees, including ISU students, international students from China, and community members, helped welcome the year of the dragon.

"This is the most important festival of the year," said Ming Qiang, an exchange student from China. "Just like Christmas in America."

About 45 Chinese students helped put together the event, which began with a buffet-style dinner offering a variety of authentic Chinese food.

The evening's performance opened with a pop dance number, and events throughout the evening ranged from musical talent to artistic displays complete with traditional Chinese apparel.

"It is a great opportunity for all Chinese people to celebrate the Chinese New Year together and enjoy the procession as a big party," said Leslie Meng, an exchange student from Liaoning University.

Known as the Chinese Spring Festival, the celebration typically lasts an entire week in China. Families enjoy food, fireworks, games, and time to spend with loved ones, according to Qiang.

"Family always gather together to enjoy the happy moment," said Meng.

The show's emcees offered insight into Chinese culture, mixing educational information with a touch of humor.

"We want the audience to have a deeper understanding about Chinese culture," said Meng.

Meng is part of the ISU Chinese Student and Scholar Association, the group that organized the event along with a handful of students from St. Mary-of-the-Woods College and Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology.

"You get exposed to great Chinese food, fashion, songs, and dance," ISU economics Professor John Conant said of the new year celebration.

Conant said he emphasizes the importance of international events to his students.

"And if it's important for students to do it, we ought to do it too," he said of faculty.

Conant role models the importance of international experience by travelling abroad, including to China, where he has frequented once a year for the past 13 years. He works specifically with Liaoning University, an international partner of ISU.

Conant said it's neat to see the exchange program in motion, with five Chinese students currently studying at ISU. Likewise, several ISU students studied in China this year.

Senior Aubrey Hancock, an accounting major from Vincennes, is one of eight students who recently returned to the U.S. after attending Liaoning University during the fall semester.

"When I was in China, people really were welcoming and hospitable," she said, noting that the culture is very unique from that of the United States.

Hancock said she was excited to experience the Chinese New Year.

"I wanted to get a taste of the food, the culture, and meet some of the Chinese students from the university I went to."

"It's important that our students interact with international students," agreed Conant.

After studying abroad, Hancock knows firsthand about being in a foreign country and offered some advice to fellow ISU students.

"Seek out friendships with international students," she said." "You don't even have to leave the U.S. to learn about other countries and cultures."

新年快乐 (Happy new Chinese year.)

Photo: http://isuphoto.smugmug.com/Events/Chinese-New-Year-2012/i-Q934Pxw/0/L/01222012ChineseNewYear03102417-L.jpg - A diverse group of Indiana State University students turned out for a Chinese New Year celebration on Jan. 22, 2012 (ISU/Rachel Keyes)

Photo: http://isuphoto.smugmug.com/Events/Chinese-New-Year-2012/i-wdFmRWh/0/L/01222012ChineseNewYear04282432-L.jpg - Traditional Chinese dancers made up just part of the entertainment at a Chinese New Year celebration at Indiana State University Jan. 22. (ISU/Rachel Keyes)

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Contact: Leslie Meng, ISU Chinese Student and Scholars Association, at fmeng@sycamores.indstate.edu

Writer: Bethany Donat, Media Relations Assistant, ISU Communications and Marketing, at bdonat@sycamores.indstate.edu