By Katie Park ‘21, Amanda Wang ‘22, Suha Choi ‘22
St. Mark’s strives to recognize the diverse culture in our community, and the Asian Student Alliance (ASA) planned and organized a week-long Lunar New Year celebration in an effort to create a home away from home for the Asian students. Lunar New Year is the start of a new year according to the lunar calendar. This year’s Lunar New Year fell on the fifth of February. Many Asian countries including China, Korea, Japan, and Vietnam celebrate this holiday in their own traditions. Since culture is so diverse among the Asian countries, the ASA wanted to make sure all the cultures were represented.
To pull off the celebrations, there was a lot of behind the scenes work from the ASA members. Most of the ideas came from the three co-heads of the ASA: Helen Huang `20, Lora Xie `20, and Stephanie Moon `19. They reached out to all the ASA members and encouraged them to step up and get involved. There were four different groups in charge of decorations, logistics, weekday activities, or performances.
The Lunar New Year Dinner on Friday night marked the start of the celebration. Parents and families overseas sent their best wishes to all students at St. Mark’s by video in their own languages respectively. This helped create a family-like atmosphere. There were also delicious traditional Asian foods prepared by Flik Dining, such as Korean style beef, Chinese style dumplings, fortune cookies, Japanese sodas, rice, Shrimp shumai, cooked fishes.
Many students contributed efforts to noteworthy performances and overall a fun festival! To take a peek, Sophia Liu ‘19 played an elegant piece of music, which mimics the sounds of traditional Chinese instruments on piano. Samantha Wang ’21 performed her magic tricks; she made a red napkin disappear and reappear in her hands. Selina Wu’19, Leean Li’19, Amy Wang ‘19, and Jenny Shan ’19 rocked with two Chinese pop music, with their photos on the slideshow to display their friendship over the last four years at St. Mark’s. Alex Chen ’21, Richard Zhang ’21 and Will Lu ’20 made a famous song named The Drunken Beauty come to life, incorporating both the traditional and the modern elements of music. Thomas Li’22, Lina Zhang ’21, and Waverly Shi ’21 played An Unforgettable Night, a traditional lunar new year song known by all, as an end of the new year celebration.
The chapel service organized by the ASA was another significant event. It was the first year for this service, and Ms. Starry Zhu, the ASA’s faculty advisor, stated that “[they] were trying to balance and recognize the perspectives of Asian students from different backgrounds at St. Mark’s.”
The whole celebration was a great success. Behind the curtain, however, the ASA faced some difficulties. Lora Xie `20 shared that “because the variance among different Asian cultures is so great, and because we do have the subgroup of Chinese international students that outnumbers others by far, it was not easy to navigate the diversity within the Asian and Asian American community.” Helen Huang `20 stated that the most difficult part was “managing time and people because we had several groups working on several different things, so it was hard to keep track with what was happening when and what we still needed the accomplish.” Ms. Zhu shared that she is “very proud of how the ASA members managed to overcome numerous difficulties.”
The ASA members are planning to send out a survey to grasp a better understanding of how the students thought that the event went. So far, Ms. Zhu stated that she “received numerous positive feedbacks from faculty members, students, and parents.” The ASA members are proud of how the Lunar New Year celebration went and are looking forward to planning other events throughout the year.