Mon., Jan. 23, marked the observed date for the Lunar New Year, one of the most important traditional Asian holidays of the year.
Two WUSTL student groups, the Asian Multicultural Council and the Lunar New Year Festival (LNYF), annually organize campus celebrations, with the hope of making Asian culture accessible to as many students and other university community members as possible. (At press time, the LNYF student organization was named the SU Student Group of the Year.)
Festivities celebrating the Lunar New Year began Sun., Jan. 22. During the evening, students enjoyed food, origami, calligraphy, information booths and performances in Tisch Commons (Danforth University Center). Concluding the day’s activities was the second annual fireworks display presented from Mudd Field on the Danforth Campus.
The Lunar New Year Festival, set for the following weekend — Fri., Jan. 27 and Sat., Jan. 28 — is a student-run production that culminates from months of hard work. Student performances span the traditional to the modern — from the elaborate ribbon and lion dances, to the graceful Korean fan dance, to the rhythms of hip hop and fusion.
“As one of the largest cultural shows on campus, LNYF is able to bring cultural awareness and understanding to all those involved with the show, whether involved in the planning, performing, or being part of the audience,” says Rina Matsumoto, LNYF co-executive director, Arts & Sciences Class of ’13. “And the event attracts participants from all different cultures and backgrounds.”
This year, 2012, is the Year of the Dragon, the most powerful of the Zodiac animals. In honor of the grand and legendary creature, this year’s festival theme, “To Be a Dragon,” highlighted a traditional Chinese saying (wang zi cheng long), the idea that all parents want their children to grow up to be dragons. Dragons are considered dominant, ambitious, successful and bringers of good fortune.
“We wanted to touch upon the various interpretations of what it means to grow up a ‘dragon’ and the successes and failures that come along the journey to becoming one,” says Matsumoto, who worked closely with co-executive director, Kathee Li, Arts & Sciences Class of ’13, and other board members in producing the event.
The two-night festival includes 14 dances, a fashion show and a skit. Nearly 200 students participate in LNYF, and they typically spend in the order of 70 hours preparing for the event. Students must audition to be involved.
For Matsumoto and Li, as well as many of the participants, the highlight of the festival is getting to know, and forming relationships with, people from different social groups on campus.
“Working toward a common goal — putting on a fantastic show — promotes a sense of unity among the performers and facilitates those sorts of bonds,” Matsumoto says.
Helping Tsunami Victims
Each year, LNYF initiates a philanthropy partnership in conjunction with the event. Proceeds from this year’s performances, totaling $2,000, went to Youth for 3.11.
Youth for 3.11, a Japanese nonprofit volunteer organization founded by college students, supports the victims of the earthquake and tsunami that devastated the northeastern region of Japan on March 11, 2011. The organization brings together college students from all over the globe to participate in various volunteer projects.
The above news item includes information from articles written by Debbie Parker, associate Record editor/senior news writer.