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Students, community celebrate Lunar New Year with food, friendship



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Younjei Choe, 7, celebrates her birthday by making dumplings with her family Feb. 2 at Campus View Apartments. The IU Chinese Students and Scholars Association will mark the new year with its annual Spring Festival Gala Friday in the IU Auditorium. Claire Livingston Buy Photos

The Lunar New Year began Tuesday, but Bloomington will continue to ring in the Year of the Pig with events this weekend on campus and around the community.

The Chinese Flagship Program, the Asian Culture Center and the Chinese Students and Scholars Association organized celebrations for the holiday.

The first of these events is 5:30 p.m. Thursday in the Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International Studies building with The Chinese Flagship Program, which is a U.S. government-funded program that helps undergraduate students reach professional proficiency in Mandarin, program coordinator and adviser Ania Peczalska said.

At this event, students can enjoy local Chinese food as they listen to a presentation about the history and traditions of the Chinese New Year, pedagogy specialist Tianyu Qin said.

“Our goal with this program is not just to teach the language but also the culture itself,” she said.

The IU Chinese Students and Scholars Association will mark the new year with its annual Spring Festival Gala Friday in the IU Auditorium. Doors open at 5 p.m., and dinner begins at 5:30 p.m. The event is free and open to the public, the group’s vice president Ivan Liu said.

“Holding this kind of event gives Chinese students a sense of family and union,” he said.

Authentic Chinese foods like dumplings, fried rice and mapo tofu, a dish with tofu, meat, and spicy sauces, will be served.

Following dinner, both Chinese and non-Chinese student organizations will take the stage at the auditorium. Singing, dancing, magic, comedy and instrumental performances are among the acts.

Sophomore Anna Song said she usually celebrates the Lunar New Year with her family at home with a hot pot dinner. Since she couldn’t be with her family last year, she went to the gala instead.

“At home it was with a more intimate group,” she said. “Here, you celebrate with a lot more people.”

IU’s Asian Culture Center will also celebrate the Lunar New Year with an event 1 p.m. Saturday at the Monroe County Public Library.                     

Sarah Stamey, program associate for the Asian Culture Center, said this library event is aimed toward families with children ages 5-11, but anyone is welcome to attend.

“I think a lot of Asian-Americans feel invisible, so it’s nice to do an event that’s so important to so many and to celebrate with them,” she said. “We bring that celebration to the entire community, to a place where everyone can celebrate, or if they don’t know about it they can learn about it.”

The first half of the event will be filled with performances and children’s crafts, and activities will be available during the second half.

Performers will represent various cultural groups. A librarian will read a Chinese folktale, IU’s Samulnori Korean Percussion Ensemble will play and IU faculty member Ochmaa Escue will perform with a Mongolian string instrument called a yatga.

“A lot of countries celebrate Lunar New Year, not just the big ones that we think of, so we try to highlight that in the performances,” Stamey said.

Bloomington residents can observe the new year at any of these events or by creating their own plans. Song said surrounding yourself with loved ones is most important during the holiday.

“It’s just such a joyous time with family and friends,” she said. 

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