By ALEXIS ERB
This past weekend the University of Mary Washington celebrated the Chinese New Year with the community of Fredericksburg. There was a big turn out with people from a variety of backgrounds and a plethora of Chinese food from restaurants, as well as food made by locals that attended the event. Having a large turnout was a big deal because of how small the Chinese community is in the Fredericksburg area.
Some men and women were dressed up in traditional Chinese clothing. The venue was well-decorated in red with beautiful centerpieces, paper lanterns and a talented calligraphist painting Chinese characters under a monitor being projected on a wall, so guests could watch while eating. In addition to just hosting a fun event, however, the clubs also intended to educate and send a message to everyone that came.
“We want the UMW community to understand the Lunar New Year, as well as involve community members with the school,” said Penny Causarano, a Chinese Language and Culture professor at UMW, who was there to support the clubs, but to also help with the setup of the huge event.
The Asian Student Association and the Chinese Language program came together to make this Chinese New Year celebration festive and fun.
Sarah Jones, a senior in the Asian Student Association club, had similar views for the message they were trying to promote.
“It’s an open event with a new year, new community and a new culture; it also brings the community together,” said Jones.
Throughout the time of the event there were performances and games you could watch and play. One game called pachinko is the Chinese version of pinball, and then there was also chess. At the end of the games they had prizes for the winners. Some of the younger children made their own fun by running up on the stage when there wasn’t a performance and just dancing around. There were also big Chinese yo-yo’s that caught the eyes of the little kids and performances such as singing and dancing.
Kali Chapman, a junior who has attended the event every year she has been here, did her first performance this year showcasing Chinese culture.
Chapman stated that some of her favorite events were the “belly dancing and the Chinese yo-yo’s.”
Causarano shared that her favorite thing about the Chinese New Year celebration was “the food, and the more people the merrier. Also having the students connect with the community members.”
The free food not only looked great, but it smelled great too. The lines to get Chinese food was long on both ends of the table. As people would go to sit down, they had their plates piled high with fruit such as oranges as well as steamed vegetables and many noodle and chicken dishes that were offered.
Even the University Center dining hall made a small tribute to the Chinese New Year by featuring Asian cuisine that night.