Two Chinese Ferris State international students were given a taste of home at FLITE’s Chinese New Year Celebration on Feb. 10.
Ferris marketing major Xiao Gun Zhang, and biology major Xiaohua Li, were among a mixed crowd of local and international students enjoying Chinese culture in Big Rapids.
“This year I’m surprised to have a Chinese New Year celebration. It’s good for the other cultures to learn more about China’s culture,” said Li.
A native of Zhengzhou, China, Li has been in America for nearly two years. Li said her parents encouraged her to come to America to pursue her education. She said she was really excited to come to America and study abroad.
“I wanted to study abroad,” said Li. “America has a good education and Ferris’ pharmacy program is better than other schools’.”
Among the foods served at the celebration were crab rangoons and Chinese dumplings called Jiaozi. Li said enjoying the food at the Chinese New Year Celebration reminded her of how much she misses being in Zhengzhou.
“I miss my family and my friends so much,” said Li. “Big Rapids is a small town, but my hometown is a big city. I have a lot of fun being there.”
Chinese New Year, often referred to as Chinese Lunar New Year, is one of the most important Chinese holidays. It can be celebrated for up to 15 days with each day acknowledging a different aspect of Chinese culture. This year, Chinese Lunar New Year started Feb. 3.
Traditional Chinese Lunar New Year foods include steamed wheat bread, rice pudding and a vegetarian dish called jai composed of lotus seed and Ginkgo nut. These are just a few of the foods Gun Zhang enjoys in his hometown of Beijing.
Enjoying his first two months in America, Gun Zhang celebrated last Chinese New Year in Dubai. Gun Zhang said celebrating with Ferris students has allowed him to experience different cultures.
“It’s good,” said Gun Zhang. “There are other Chinese cultures and different students here.”
Gun Zhang said celebrating Chinese New Year in Beijing is a great experience.
“Beijing is a big international city. There are very traditional buildings there,” said Gun Zhang. “We enjoy dumplings and a lot of fireworks. Older people also give younger people money.”
Gun Zhang said much of the oils and sauces of American Chinese foods differ from traditional Chinese foods. Still, Gun Zhang said he appreciates spending time celebrating his Chinese culture.
“It’s good to celebrate our Chinese roots,” said Gun Zhang.
Both Li and Gun Zhang said they plan to be at Ferris for the next couple years. Gun Zhang said once he graduates, he plans to return to Dubai and work for his father’s piping company.
The Chinese New Year celebration was held by the Office of International Education in FLITE 404. n