New year, new opportunities

Chinese NewYear celebration at Ferris gives international students a chance to share their culture

Ferris State University has always prided itself on representing students from all different races and ethnicities. But for Chinese students at FSU, yesterday was the first time that Chinese New Year was officially celebrated on campus.

“We’re trying to create awareness of the fact that it is Chinese New Year. We have a growing population of Chinese students on campus and want to give them the opportunity to share their culture and this time of celebration. They’ve been very excited about this,” Study Abroad & National Student Exchange Manager Tara Braun said.

Actual Chinese New Year began Jan. 23, and the celebration will continue for 15 days.

Each day, various events or traditions take place. For example, the first day is one to meet with family and elders. The last day is the Lantern Festival, where those who celebrate eat various traditional Chinese dishes. The event at Ferris wasn’t aimed at any particular day, but rather hoped to encompass various elements of the new year and its traditions.

The celebration, efforts of the Chinese student registered student organization, took place in the Rankin Center Dome room yesterday. It included four tables: one teaching calligraphy, another on the language, one on traditions, and one on paper cutting. There was also food from New China restaurant and students doing kung fu and singing. A professional pipa player was also hired for the event.

Xiaohua Li, Chinese international student and president of the Chinese RSO, came to Ferris two years ago from south of Beijing. Her first year at FSU was spent studying English as a second language, and her second year is in pre-dental hygiene. One of the things Li was so excited about was to be able to introduce Chinese New Year to those beyond the Chinese student population.

“The Chinese students celebrate by ourselves. If we live in the dorms we make dumplings,” Li said. “We want to remember our traditions in China and we also really want to share with a lot of friends about the Chinese culture. We want a lot of people to know about China.”

Li hasn’t been home since she came to FSU two years ago, so celebrating the new year also brings comfort through community and shared traditions.

“We have a lot of new Chinese students and we want to celebrate the holiday together because we miss our family and we want to share our culture with people and friends from other countries,” said Li.

Despite her enjoyment of immersing herself in a completely different culture, Li has met some challenges.

“I think I enjoy staying here for studying and meeting different cultured friends. But the first time I came here it was really hard for my language study. Sometimes I cannot speak and if I want to say something I don’t know how to explain it by myself,” Li said.

But Li has seen the challenges as a learning experience, and in addition to her excitement of sharing her own holiday and traditions, has appreciated learning about other cultures.

“In America they include a lot of cultures so it’s kind of fun to celebrate Christmas and other holidays,” Li said.

The Chinese New Year celebration was made possible thanks to the Office of Diversity and Inclusion.