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2009 Chinese New Year at the International House

International Club Celebrates Chinese New Year
January 28,2009

by Nay Min Oo ’12
On Wednesday, January 28, 2009, Hampden-Sydney College celebrated the Chinese New Year at the International House.  The event was organized by Frank Li, the Chinese Fulbright Scholar and professor of Chinese, and was sponsored by the Hampden-Sydney International Club and the Modern Languages Department.

More than ninety students, faculty, and staff participated in this celebration.  Four Chinese residents of Farmville and nine Chinese students from Longwood University also came to celebrate.  The purpose of this program was to foster inter-cultural exchange and global awareness at Hampden-Sydney.

The celebration started at 5 PM.  At the front door, the guests were greeted by an inflatable toy, the God of Wealth, who brings good luck and wealth for the New Year.  Red couplets decorated the door, the windows, and the walls.  As the guests entered the house, they were greeted with “Xin Nian Kuai Le” (Happy New Year) and “Gong Xi Fa Cai” (Wish you prosperity) by Ciaran Buckley, International Visiting Scholar of Government and Foreign Affairs, and Mary Cooper, Director of International Studies.  The house was filled with an atmosphere of joy and excitement plus the alluring aroma of the delicious Chinese food.

A wide variety of Chinese food was served in that evening including dumplings, a quintessential Chinese New Year dish.  Also, Kung Pao chicken, cabbage Tofu, cucumber and scrambled eggs, and fried rice were prepared by the Chinese community in Farmville. Everyone enjoyed tasty and authentic Chinese food, and it was gone in a short time.

The program started with the introduction to the Chinese New Year festival.  A student from Professor Li’s Chinese class talked about the origins and the traditions of the festival.  Then he explained about the Chinese zodiac, which consists of Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Ram, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and Pig.  He also taught the guests how to identify their zodiac signs.  This year, 2009, is the year of Ox.

After the introduction, the students from the Chinese class sang a Chinese song, “Dui Mian De Nu Hai, Kan Guo Lai” (Throw me a glance, the girl in front).  After the students finished singing, Tian Shi Hao ’12, from China, presented another essential tradition for Chinese New Year—Lion Dancing.  A brightly decorated Lion came into the parlor and danced to energetic drum beats and lively music.  Watching the Lion Dance, children were thrilled and started to play with the lion.

Following the Lion Dance was another song, excerpted from Huang Mei, Chinese opera .  The name of the song was “Fu Qi Shuang Shuang Ba Jia Huan” (Together to home, the couple goes).  Justin Smith ’11 and Nay Min Oo ’12 performed the short song.  This performance received applause from the audience.

To conclude the program, Professor Li arranged a musical chair game.  The last three survivors in the game were each given a “Hong Bao” (red envelope).  It is a tradition at the New Year for elders  to give their juniors pocket money in a red envelope.  After the game, the guests and the performers talked freely about the Chinese culture.  The program ended about 8 PM.

At Hampden-Sydney, programs like this are frequently sponsored by the International Club. These programs expose Hampden-Sydney students to different cultures and increase their understanding of the world.

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