CPP Asian American community celebrates Lunar New Year virtually

By Moustafa Elhadary, Feb. 16, 2021

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, Cal Poly Pomona’s Asian and Pacific Islander Student Center hosted its 18th annual Lunar New Year celebration via Zoom on Feb. 12, gathering students from across cultures to join in unison for celebration.

Numerous students attended to share their own values and traditions with the campus community. The event featured different methods to celebrate Lunar New Year — from activities like at-home calligraphy to videos showcasing lion dancing and educational storytelling sessions about the Chinese zodiac, explaining how certain animals are chosen for each Lunar New Year.

Providing background on how the 12 animals of the lunar zodiac cycle were put into order, the virtual celebration served as an ideal introductory event for attendees who were unfamiliar with the Chinese traditions. Following the lunar calendar, which is based on the cycles of the moon and the sun, this year celebrated the year of the ox.

Throughout the event, students shared their lunar zodiac animals and wore the color red, a lucky color in the Chinese culture that is recommended to be worn during Lunar New Year celebrations.

As the event progressed, students shared their family rituals to celebrate the new year, including third-year international business management student, Derrick Khousavath. Although his family will not be meeting in person due to COVID-19 restrictions, Khousavath explained his family’s tradition of hosting two distinct celebrations for each of his parents’ families.

“I am Chinese and half Thai, so with Lunar New Year, we focus more on my Chinese side — focusing more on piety, praying, honoring my parents and ancestors and getting the full family together,” Khousavath said.

Similarly, third-year computer information system student, Daniel Tan, highlighted his family’s traditional gathering to make dumplings each year. The celebration serves as the perfect opportunity to reconnect with his family, he added.

“We watch a Chinese New Year celebration program on television each year which includes dances and comedy sketches which truly helps us ring in the new year,” Tan said. “It helps me be able to spend time with family that I haven’t seen in a long time and allows me to wish them good luck for the new year.”

The event also featured the center’s Social Justice Leader Christina Chong’s grandmother, who demonstrated the art of Chinese calligraphy while sharing well wishes with the attendees.

In addition to the many fun activities that were organized for the virtual celebration, Chong highlighted the recent attacks on Asian Americans across the state.

“Recently there’s been a lot of hate crimes toward Asians, and it’s devastating seeing our elders being attacked so we wanted to bring awareness to that during our event,” Chong said.

Protecting the elders is of utmost importance within the Asian community, especially because ancestors are seen as the carriers of their culture which holds significant value to them, according to the center’s Coordinator Kayla Kosaki.

 “We wanted to take the time before starting the celebration to honor those we lost this past year due to COVID and to the violence of white supremacy and colonialism that is the most recent chapter in harm in our communities both in the U.S. and globally,” Kosaki said.

Despite setbacks from the global pandemic, students from different cultures continued to share their new year’s resolutions as the event came to a self-fulfilling end with hopes of a bright new year.

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