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February 14, 2013

CSU celebrates Year of the Snake

Faculty brings city togethr for Chinese New Year

By Patrick Elder

Chinese natives from all over the world flocked to their families this past weekend to celebrate the transition from the Year of the Dragon to the Year of the Snake, as another Chinese New Year comes and goes. Based on the Chinese lunar calendar, the Chinese New Year fell on Feb. 10 this year, but the celebrations will last for up to 15 days after the new year begins.

Year of the SnakeOne Chinese New Year celebration already took place at Cleveland State. This celebration, however, was not made up of the typical adherents to traditional Chinese holidays. No, it was a group of Chinese 102 students, experiencing for the first time the intricacies of the most important Chinese holiday.

“I always celebrate the Chinese New Year with my students,” said Qizhi Zhang, a Chinese language professor at Cleveland State. “Most students really enjoy it.”

Students were treated to traditional Chinese cuisine such as dumplings and rice cakes. While they ate they participated in a contest of chopstick skills and games of Mahjong and Go. They also received packets of “money” (actually chocolates in this case), as is customary to give to children in China.

“Chinese New Year is the best time for students to experience our culture,” Zhang said. “This is the only Chinese holiday that’s really celebrated in the United States.”

The Chinese-American Faculty and Staff Association (CAFSA), in partnership with the Confucius Institute of Cleveland State, will be putting on their own Chinese New Year celebration for the second year running.

The event, which will be held in the Student Center Ballroom on Saturday, Feb. 16, was very well received last year. Because of last year’s success, the two organizations are working together once again to put on a fun-filled evening.

“In previous years we had a very small banquet in a restaurant,” said Dr. Guowei Jian, president of CAFSA and associate professor of Communication. “Last year we thought this could be a good occasion for the whole community to celebrate, so we put together a successful event that attracted a lot of faculty members from other universities, such as Case Western, John Carroll and the Cleveland Clinic.”

The event will begin with traditional Chinese cuisine, followed by performances from several talented Chinese-Americans, including Cleveland State’s own Angeline Chan, a Grammy award-winning musician.

“We are very fortunate,” Dr. Jian said. “They are very talented people. It will be a lot of fun.”

Other performers include a gymnastics and dance team of children who competed in state tournaments and a Kung Fu master and his students. After the performances will come an open dance session for all to participate in.

“My favorite part, I think, is the occasion to see everybody that I don’t often see throughout the year,” Dr. Jian said. “We live on this campus together, but we rarely see each other because we’re stuck in our offices or our classrooms, and are so busy with research and teaching and community work, and so on and so forth. So for many of us this is probably the only time we see each other and reconnect.”

In addition to the events and reunions, the Chinese New Year provides an opportunity for collaboration between universities.

“We have friends from other institutions outside of CSU, and that really creates so opportunities for collaboration on research and on grants,” Dr. Jian said. “So in that sense, it is both academic and social.”