PAA and ISA Celebrate Lunar New Year

On Wednesday, February 10, Lawrenceville’s Pan Asian Alliance (PAA), the International Student’s Association, and the Bunn Library hosted a Lunar New Year celebration.

On Wednesday, February 10, Lawrenceville’s Pan Asian Alliance (PAA), the International Student’s Association, and the Bunn Library hosted a Lunar New Year celebration.

PAA Co-President Chelsea Wang ’21 began the meeting with an acknowledgment of the recent hate crimes against Asian Americans, saying, “During the pandemic, anti-Asian attacks have increased throughout the U.S. Within the first three months of the pandemic, 2,100 crimes against Asian Americans were filed. We have a duty to debunk the model minority myth and be vocal and active for the sake of our own community. Here is a reminder to not use anti-Asian hate crimes to justify anti-black rhetoric.”

Wang then recapped the origins of Lunar New Year, explaining that “the legend behind Lunar New Year is of a lion-like monster named nian who came from the sea to terrorize people and consume livestock. His weaknesses were loud noises and the color red, which is why so many modern celebrations involve fireworks and red decoration.”

PAA Co-Presidents Sydney Chun ’21 and Rachelle Cho ’21 continued by listing some common traditions across Asia, including eating traditional foods, cleaning the house, distributing money, and lighting firecrackers.

Next, International Student’s Association Co-President Isabelle Lee ’21 noted that “[although] Lunar New Year is often associated with Chinese Lunar New Year, it is also celebrated in a host of other countries. For example, in Vietnam it’s called Tet, in Korea it’s called Seollal, in Tibet it’s called Losar, in Mongolia Tsagaan Sar, and Chunjie in China. It’s important to note that the Lunar New Year is not celebrated in one place but is a tradition that many celebrate.”

Reflecting on the importance of Lunar New Year, Wang said, “It is a uniquely Asian holiday and the biggest one. It’s a time for people to come together with their families and look for new beginnings and connect with others, which has been extra difficult this year.”

The presentation was followed by students sharing their Lunar New Year celebrations and pre-recorded musical performances that showcased the cultural backgrounds and identities of students around Asia.

When planning the event, Wang noted the boundaries of a virtual setting. She said, “Lunar New Year and a lot of Asian holidays revolve around food. That’s how Lunar New Year celebrations have always been in the past at Lawrenceville. It’s usually been a big dinner and everyone comes together…this year, we can’t be eating together [but] we still wanted to do something festive and this is where music performances come in.”

In addition, Wang explained how planning a Zoom meeting “is especially difficult with different time zones...Half of us are in Asia and half of us are in the states so meetings are never conventional. For us to get together, someone has to get up early or someone has to stay up late. But this is just something we’re learning to handle this year,” she said.

However, she was happy with the success of the event: “It went so well! People were...impressed by the variety of performances from different cultures and media, and I loved hearing everyone’s personal traditions.”

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