Chinese, Taiwanese celebrate New Year

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Monday, Feb. 8, marked the beginning to the year of the Red Monkey, and a celebration for the Chinese New Year took place in the Thompson Student Activities Room (TSAR) that following Saturday.

Over 200 tickets were passed out to students, faculty, and community members as they all gathered to celebrate one of the most important cultural events for the Chinese and Taiwanese cultures.

With SVSU having a large connection to the cultures of Taiwan and China through the sister school of Ming Chuan University, hosting the event on campus was a way to celebrate that connection. The celebration on campus was a unique experience that brought together various sub-cultures within the region as well, mixing aspects from Taiwan, southern China and northern China.

The event was full of performances, including Yi-An Huang (Miranda), a second-year graduate student performing on piano, as well as Yaowen Shi, another graduate student, who offered a vocal performance of the songs “Vaga Luna” and “Che Inargenti.”

“In Chinese culture, we are pretty shy and modest,” said Carine Yang, the associate program director for Ming Chuan University-Michigan. “It is kind of hard to push someone to get on the stage. So I am very excited to see our students up there and supported.”

The Chinese New Year celebration also had various videos of faculty members wishing everybody a happy new year, including International Student Adviser Charles Shelly and associate professor of sociology Brian Thomas. The night also included prize giveaways and games.

President Donald Bachand and his wife also attended the event and participated in a balloon-popping game. He also gave a short speech at the beginning of the event.

“I’ve been to a lot of these events, but they’ve all been very special,” Bachand said. “On behalf of Saginaw Valley State University, we welcome you here, wish you the best and happy new year, the Year of the Monkey.”

This event was mostly organized and created by students in the Chinese Scholar Student Association, as well as students from Ming Chuan University. One of the major goals of this event was to bring together the students from China and Taiwan to celebrate their heritage and culture together.

“As far as I know, there are more than 200 students here from both China and Taiwan,” Yang said. “Ming Chuan University is co-sponsoring this event. Our
goal is to bring the Chinese community together, especially at this special event. It’s like our Christmas.”

This is the year of the Red Monkey, which, according to Yang, means that it will be a jumpy, turbulent year.

“The special thing is, if you are a monkey, it is actually a bad year for you,” Yang said. “It’s not lucky. I’m actually a Tiger, so I’m actually very cautious during the Tiger year. People may think ‘Oh, it’s your year, so you must be very lucky,’ but no, it’s not that way.”

Robert S. P. Yien, the vice president for international programs, also attended the event. He was originally from Taiwan, meaning that the Chinese New Year
celebration was also a part of his heritage as well.

“We have about 200 students from China and about 18 students from Taiwan,” he said. “Politically, the two sides are separated, but in terms of people, they get together. Politically, they choose to be divided but there’s no reason to be divided. You work together, mingle with everybody and then peace will come. That’s my goal.”

Yien advocated for the event to occur in order to bring students together who typically would be separated because of nationality. He said he believes that the event lets the community know that SVSU is a friendly environment, and wants to see how much he can expand it to include all types of students to engage in this aspect of the Chinese culture to have a better understanding of the different people of the world.

“I was telling President Bachand that I would like to see this expand to students from other parts of the world,” Yien said. “We have students from the Middle East, and Nepal and Bangladesh, and when they are in the United States and in Michigan, people should do their best to make them feel at home.”

The event also had a large meal served to each of the tables, and each dish in the meal was authentic and also a mixture of southern, northern and Taiwanese cultures in itself. Students, faculty and community members all socialized over the meal, celebrating the start of the Chinese New Year.