Judy Huang, a junior at Francis Lewis, takes a step into the school auditorium. Taking one glance across the room, she is amazed by the rows of colorful posters and decorations. Walking down the aisle, she exchanges new year greetings, “Gong xi fa cai!”, with her classmates. With much anticipation, students quickly shuffle their way back to their seats. The teacher slowly makes her way towards the microphone. Tap tap tap. “Welcome to the 2016 Lunar New Year Celebration!”
Lunar New Year is one of the most important holidays in the Asian culture. There are various ways how Asian people celebrate this holiday, however common celebrations include visiting family members, giving red pocket money, and watching lion dance performances. While Lunar New Year is being celebrated all around the world for fifteen days, Francis Lewis High School had their own celebration in the school auditorium on January 31.
“I think Lunar New Year is important to Chinese people because it symbolizes the rebirth of a new year and people celebrate it for a prosperous and happy new year.” said Huang.
She was very excited as her project was one of the many posters being displayed in the auditorium. Students were assigned elaborate group projects about different cities in China. Every group was required to demonstrate their understanding by describing how their particular city celebrate the New Year.
“I thought it was really interesting to include the other Asian cultures into this experience because the Lunar New Year is not just specifically for Chinese people.” said Huang.
She found this event to be meaningful as she was able to learn about the Korean culture. She was surprised by the traditional clothing “hanbok” worn by Korean people to welcome the new year. Throughout this event, students were able to gain valuable knowledge of cultures other than their own.
“I found the calligraphy station to be very interesting because I was actually able to experience the writing using “mao bi” (brush) and “muo” (ink).” said Lingjia Chen, a Chinese student at Francis Lewis.
She found the calligraphy section to be the most interesting as students were able to get hands-on experience on how to write Chinese calligraphy. Many students recognized a cultural diffusion, as they were able to compare and contrast how different Asian cultures celebrate the new year. Teachers have recognized the hard work of the language students and were extremely content with their performances.
“I’m very happy with the kids that helped prepare for the event because they did a great job on the poster and it’s out of my expectation on some posters.” said Ms. Lin, a Chinese teacher at Francis Lewis.
Teachers have also contributed a tremendous amount of effort in organizing this event. Especially for the Chinese section, Ms. Lin prepared “hong bao”, or red envelopes, for students. In some of them, students were able to receive homework passes or lucky wisdom words. This reflects the Chinese tradition of giving red envelopes, filled with money, to the younger generation. Many Francis Lewis staffs have attended the celebration and praised the success of the event.
“I am incredibly impressed by how well prepared they are. We have students here who are in first year language classes and their work is a caliber of a second or third year student.” said Mrs. Irving, the Language AP at Francis Lewis.
As Mrs. Irving was very satisfied with the event, the Language department is hoping to continue the Lunar New Year Celebration at Francis Lewis in the future.
“I think we would like to go even bigger than what we currently have,” said Mrs. Irving. “It would be great to have another school join us or perhaps to consider inviting the elementary schools in our neighborhood to come on down and view our Lunar New Year Festival.”