The weather during the first week of February was predicted to be cold, but it was a warm day on Wednesday, February 6th; perhaps because of the Lunar New Year Celebration that was happening here at UT Dallas. Around 3 PM in the Visitor Center Atrium, were groups of people setting up sound system, moving chairs and tables, and hanging decorations. The crowd of onlookers slowly increased the closer it got to 5 PM and everybody was quickly trying to get everything ready. There were young ladies wearing their traditional dresses, others at game booths, and some walking around the stage area. At the same time, volunteers were working hard to check in guests and hand out raffle tickets. It was one hectic time crunch.
The program officially started moments later when Yiang and I introduced ourselves to the audience as the hosts for the night. Yiang Chen is the Secretary for the Chinese Student Association, one of the co-sponsor student organizations for the event. We carried on with a brief description of what Lunar New Year is and how it is celebrated by various cultures. The audience had a chance to learn how to say “Happy New Year” in Chinese, Korean, Japanese and Vietnamese, with the help of representatives from their respective organizations. Soon after, the guests were treated with samples of food from a variety of Asian countries, including: Eggroll, Filipino ice cream, Chinese and Vietnamese rice cake, Korean cracker, etc.
To get the crowd excited, the lion dance group from Phap Quang Temple was invited to put on a lion dance show. And the crowd got excited indeed! As soon as the group started the drum rolls, everyone gathered to watch the show – some even got to “pet” the lion.
Following the lion dance show, were dances and musical performances that UTD students had worked very hard to put together. The Japanese Student Association (JSA) brought not only one but three performances to the event, with one of them featuring “yukata” – the beautiful Japanese traditional clothing.
The ladies and gentlemen of Vietnamese Student Association (VSA) had a cute hat dance, showcasing the well-known rice hats and “ao dai” – traditional dress of Vietnam. There were multiple live musical performances put together by the Filipino, Chinese, and Korean Undergraduate student associations (FSA, CSA, KUSA), some of which featured songs in their own languages! The evening was filled with many cultural appreciations, but it did not stop there. Another Vietnamese student group, VINCEF, brought a performance that demonstrated how children in Vietnam celebrated the New Year. The night ended with a spectacular magic show by Jacob Ponce, a student here at UT Dallas, which in my opinion though, is a real magician.
While the performances were going on in the Atrium, there were various activities set up in the hallway for guests to experience with some Asian themed games. Global Village and Filipino Student Association were educating guests on how to make lucky knots and flower decorations.
The Japanese Student Association had the guests engaged in a game that requires skill and patience – water balloon fishing. Meanwhile the Vietnamese Student Association involved the crowd in a traditional gambling game to see who is lucky in the Year of the Snake.
Not until when I finally got a chance to look around had I realized that this space brought a very warm feeling to my heart – it was filled with red envelopes hung on strings, red ribbons wrapped around the poles, balloons floating next to each table, and New Year’s decorations displayed in multiple corners. All of this resulted from the hard work of a group of dedicated students who volunteered to help with the event. I could never thank them enough – each volunteer who was there that night, each officer who was part of a planning committee, each performer who helped put on the best show, each photographer who contributed to making the memories of the night last, and each staff member and MPA in the Multicultural Center and SUAAB who worked behind the scenes to have the Lunar New Year Celebration be as successful as it was. Last but not least, thank you to all those who came that night, I hope you enjoyed the event and learned something new. Until next year!
Author: Vi Tran
Vi is a Multicultural Peer Advocate in the Multicultural Center. She is responsible for assisting in the planning and execution of asian programming and other cultural events in the enter. She is working on her Master’s in Information Technology and Management in the JSOM here at UT Dallas. She likes to have fun and be active on campus. Look for more blog posts from her in the future.