By Nicole Stewart Staff Reporter

Chinese Chess (Photos by Nicole Stewart)

The UMF Office of Global Studies hosted a Chinese New Year Celebration in the recently renovated Fusion Center that brought together the community as they celebrated with music, food, and activities.

   Participants were greeted with red envelopes filled with chocolate gold coins inside, meant to bring happiness and good luck. The celebration featured food such as pork and vegetable dumplings, Kung Pao and rice and activities including  Chinese Chess, Chinese Paper Cutting, learning Mandarin, and practicing Chinese Calligraphy.

   Haiyu Zheng, an international exchange student, explained that Chinese New Years is “the biggest celebration in China, because we don’t have any other celebrations.” Zheng further added that “this is a period of time where people, family members gather together and it is a celebration that lasts about two weeks, from the Chinese New Years Eve till the Lantern Festival.”

  During Chinese New Year, each family has different celebrations and traditions.

   “Basically we write Chinese calligraphies and we put them on the wall,” said Zheng. “We decorate our room with those things as a sign of good luck. Happiness, unity, all of those good things.”

   Lynne Eustis, Assistant Director Of Global Studies said that UMF has hosted celebrations of the Chinese New Year since 2003. The planning of this event began in the fall.

   “We started talking to our visiting Chinese professor,” said Eustis, who asked visiting Chinese students to talk about what activities they would like to see at the event.

   Freshman Sara Szanty, in charge of the calligraphy station, believed that the community members and UMF students enjoyed practicing calligraphy and liked seeing the amount of people who attended.

   “It’s great seeing people of different cultures coming together to enjoy the Chinese New Year,” said Szantyr. “I think it is a great way to experience a culture without traveling all the way to China.”

All students were welcome at the event.

   Eustis said that they used the red envelopes to keep track of attendance. “Based on what we had left, we figured we had about 150 or more people,” Eustis said. “Which is pretty good, that’s about what we had last year.”

   Zheng stated that the celebration reminded her of being back in China. “It makes me feel so homey, and so much better because during this time usually it is a time that family gets together and I am away from home,” Zheng said. “Seeing something familiar makes me feel very welcomed.”