The Daily Tar Heel

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Thursday February 2nd

Lunar New Year Celebration aims to connect international students to home culture

A woman performs zither music at Friday's 2018 Lunar Year Celebration. Photo courtesy of the Friendship Association of Chinese Students and Scholars.
Buy Photos A woman performs zither music at Friday's 2018 Lunar Year Celebration. Photo courtesy of the Friendship Association of Chinese Students and Scholars.

Laughter and joy spread across the FedEx Global Education Center Atrium on Friday night as the 2018 Lunar Year Celebration took place.

The event was organized by Friendship Association of Chinese Students and Scholars (FACSS), with hopes of creating a night for international students at UNC who can’t unite with their family to celebrate this traditional Chinese festival.

“Our association has the tradition of hosting spring festival celebration,” said Sophie Niu, the organizer and chairperson of FACSS. “Earlier on, what we would do was to gather people and make dumplings together. But with more and more Chinese students and scholars joining our Carolina community, we were unable to find a spot for over 100 people to make dumplings. So we decided to hold this event instead.”

Irene Zhan, the host of this event, was emotional during the event, and it reminded of her family in China. 

“I think cultural events such as this do matter a lot to international students and scholars, since we are all indeed far away from our homeland," Zhan said. "It’s a unique opportunity for us to recognize our own culture and celebrate it together. I think the event itself acts as a bridge which shortens the geographical gap between the scholars and students to their homeland.”

This year’s celebration featured many traditional Chinese rituals including traditional paper art, calligraphy and zither performance. Niu said one of the highlights was the food.

“I wish people can have enough to eat and have a chance to eat authentic Chinese food from some of the top-rated Chinese restaurants in the area,” Niu said. 

This year’s Lunar New Year celebration marks the first collaboration between International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) and the FACSS. 

Elizabeth Barnum, director of International Student and Scholar Services, said this event also helped people learn about Chinese culture and promote cultural inclusiveness within the Carolina community.

“I hope that students and scholars who are unfamiliar with the Lunar New Year festival will get to know a little bit about it and understand some of the richness of the Chinese culture and the importance of this particular festival in China and a lot of countries in Asia as well,” Barnum said. 

To attract people from different backgrounds to participate, ISSS sent out invitations to all international scholars and students from 100 different countries who were potentially interested in this event. 

Dipika Jayachander, a graduate student in biomedical and health informatics, attended the event, wanting to explore the Chinese culture.

“I just want to have a look at some Chinese culture and they said that there were some traditional Chinese dance and instruments which I have never seen before,” Jayachander said.

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