By Maddie Cash and Boyd Allsbrook
“It is incredibly powerful for the Chinese students of Wheaton to feel remembered and to remember,” Rose Wang, a Mandarin professor at Wheaton, told the Record. On Feb. 15, students from countries such as China and Korea remembered and celebrated their culture at the Spring Festival, colloquially called the Chinese New Year.
During the festival, hosted by the Chinese Language and Culture Club, the exchanging of blessings and the accompanying celebrations expressed the longing for peace in the new year. Chinese New Year is by far the most popular tradition in China and Korea. The 15-day festival begins on the first day of the first new moon on the lunar calendar. This year makes the ninth year that Wheaton College’s student body has come together to celebrate and share in Chinese culture.
Originally organized and hosted by Koinonia as the Lunar New Year Festival, the event has gradually come under the leadership of the CLACC. There is always an emphasis on traditional cuisine, musical and cultural performances, and crafts and games. This year the crowd of more than 100 students, professors and community members gathered to watch martial arts exhibitions, listen to Chinese songs and eat traditional foods like Tangyuan (sweet rice balls) and scallion pancakes. The event reminds Chinese students of their homes and culture while introducing the beauty and excitement of Spring Festival to Wheaties who might never be exposed to it otherwise. Freshman Ethan Iha, an attendee, remarked that although he didn’t know what the lyrics meant, “The songs were so beautiful, and I got chills.” Wang described the festival as “a time for people to come home, be with family and just celebrate.”
One performer, freshman Lucy Yang, told the Record about the sense of community that Wheaton’s Lunar New Year’s celebration gives Chinese students. “There aren’t that many Chinese students represented on campus, and it feels good to have a club like [CLACC], to remember us,” she said. “I wish that more people were aware of Chinese festivals and culture. We’re a pretty diverse group. I hope it’s even bigger next year.”
Wang agreed. “The sharing of cultures that happens is so wonderful,” she told the Record. “They are far from home, and the Spring Festival is the biggest cultural holiday that the Chinese have.” Another student, sophomore Chloe Liu, told the Record that the festival “felt like home” which is what CLACC hoped to give students thousands of miles from their homes.
“The celebration is important because it brings Chinese culture to the forefront, if only for a night, and shows love to those students, and makes them feel a sense of home away from home.” Wang explained. “It also shows love by sharing this really fun piece of culture to all those at Wheaton. Good food, good music, good fellowship.”