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Lunar New Year event celebrates Chinese heritage at CSU

Students+finish+a+game+of+mahjong+during+the+Colorado+State+University+Asian+Pacific+American+Cultural+Center+Lunar+New+Year+Celebration+for+2024s+Year+of+the+Dragon+Feb.+9.+Mahjong+was+invented+in+19th+century+in+China+and+is+currently+played+all+around+the+world+with+different+variations.
Collegian | Aria Paul
Students finish a game of mahjong during the Colorado State University Asian Pacific American Cultural Center Lunar New Year Celebration for 2024’s Year of the Dragon Feb. 9. Mahjong was invented in 19th century in China and is currently played all around the world with different variations.

Red cloth lay across tables with chocolate bar envelopes and mahjong tiles perfectly arranged on the surface. The Lory Student Center Ballroom A was filled to the brim with students from diverse backgrounds and cultures coming together as a community to celebrate the Lunar New Year, sharing special vulnerable connections, conversations and laughter.

To ring in the new year on the Chinese lunar calendar, the Colorado State University Asian Pacific American Cultural Center organized a Lunar New Year event Feb. 9 with the assistance of the Chinese Students and Scholars Association. This event was open to all students and shared a prominent part of Chinese culture through the delicious food, games and crafts.

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Zining Zhu is currently a junior and an international student from China. She worked with APACC to organize this event for a holiday that is a valuable part of her life and identity. Given APACC has not celebrated the Lunar New Year since before the COVID-19 pandemic, being able to bring it back was truly meaningful.

“We are working super hard to represent our culture, gathering together to have fun and have food. We wish to make it bigger and invite people in, teaching them more about Chinese culture.” -Zining Zhu, CSU international student from China

The Lunar New Year is considered one of the most important festivals for Chinese communities because it fortifies cultural values such as securing good fortune for the new year and family harmony. Honoring traditional Chinese understanding in an institution such as CSU allows students of different ethnic backgrounds to bring more awareness to their virtues.

Zhu spoke on the importance of social relations and cultural connections during the Lunar New Year. It demonstrates the value of bringing more recognition to cultures that are misrecognized and limited within communities like CSU.

“We are working super hard to represent our culture, gathering together to have fun and have food,” Zhu said. “We wish to make it bigger and invite people in, teaching them more about Chinese culture.”

Ben Torres-Doxey is a fourth-year at CSU and the APACC community development coordinator alongside Zhu. Torres-Doxey said he hopes the implementation of these cultural events can encourage other groups on campus to celebrate unique traditions and openly learn of diverse identities that make up the community.

“Having these larger events has really fostered a lot of community,” Torres-Doxey said. “It gives folks a chance to learn about cultures they didn’t know about.”

Rachel Wada is the assistant director of APACC and supports students in their endeavors to plan events such as the Lunar New Year celebration. Wada said she feels grateful to see how much the visibility for holidays and traditions from other diverse cultures has grown at CSU. She also said that taking the time to celebrate traditions that are meaningful to other identities can strengthen the selfhood of marginalized individuals, welcoming them with open arms.

“I think it’s really significant for folks to see their cultures represented and to see their holidays represented at the university,” Wada said. “I think it’s really important for the students, staff, faculty and whoever wants to come. They are always welcome.”

Zhu hopes that this celebration will continue to grow and that they can bring in more traditional customs such as performances and more vibrant decorations to appreciate greater aspects of this holiday. Torres-Doxey said he also wishes for others within the community to be more open-minded and acknowledge the significance of events such as the Lunar New Year in one’s cultural sense of self.

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“Hopefully we continue to have folks know about APACC and be aware that we do exist,” Torres-Doxey said. “The community needs to get a diverse perspective as well as learn about culturally important holidays that so many folks celebrate here at CSU.”

Reach Sananda Chandy at life@collegian.com or on Twitter @CSUCollegian.

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