By Nalee Praseutsack
The fourth annual Lunar New Year event will be held on Saturday, Feb. 21, and welcomes all staff, students and non-Lawrentians to celebrate Asian culture during a festive time of year.
The event was originally conceived by Ornella Hills ’12, a student working in the Office of Multicultural Affairs at the time. She noticed that while Lawrence has a sizable population of Asian students there was no programming for the significant holiday of the Lunar New Year.
“[She thought] it would be a great opportunity to help [Asian students] celebrate their culture and make them feel more welcomed,” said Pa Lee Moua, assistant dean of students for the Office of Multicultural Affairs (OMA).
The event has been planned through a collaboration between OMA, International Student Services and student groups.
“Collaboration is key in terms of maximizing our resources…and broadening our audience,” said Leah McSorely, director of International Student Services. This is “a student-led initiative” and “a collaboration across campus” according to Moua, emphasizing the work put in by student organizations to plan and organize an interesting and interactive event.
This year’s New Year celebration will have two parts. The first will be the cultural performances, a showcase of three groups each associated with a different culture. The Minnesota K-pop Dance Crew, Zhong Yu Kung Fu Association and the local dance group Nkauj Hmoob Ntsias Lias will be representing Korean, Chinese and Hmong styles respectively.
After the performances, from 8 p.m. until 9:30 p.m., a cultural expo with student organizations will be held. Groups including Asia-A, Lawrence International and the Waseda Program will share traditions and part of their cultures through interactive activities like origami and calligraphy.
“There are lots of activities to engage not only Lawrence students but also community members,” said McSorely. The event will also provide free food in collaboration with Bon Appétit.
“This year, we’re trying something new and having a variety of different foods,” said McSorely. A menu of Asian foods decided by the student organizations will be available to attendees to share a taste of these cultures.
Thanks to funding from the Alyssa Paul Maria Grant Student Activity Fund, LUCC and Saturday Night Late, who were “more than willing and gracious to contribute,” said Moua. The event is completely free. The money from these organizations goes towards the food, compensating the performers and supplies for the activities in the cultural expo.
Both people on- and off-campus are welcomed and encouraged to join in the celebration.
“It’s an awesome way to learn a little bit about a lot of cultures,” said McSorely.
Moua added that “it’s a celebration of culture, a little history and tradition and about getting the campus together.” It’s also a family friendly event with activities for all ages.
The Lunar New Year event will be held in the Esch Hurvis Room on Feb. 21, from 7 p.m. until 9:30 p.m.