The Asian community at St. John’s celebrated its Lunar New Year on Friday Feb. 8, with various presentations, dinner and a virtual tour of China in the University Center.
The event was sponsored by Project A.I.M, Student Life, Asian Studies, Global Studies and seven other student organizations.
Commemorating the year of the rat, Diana Lopez, assistant director of campus activities, began the program by speaking about those born in this year. Lopez stated that they are faithful in love and have a close friendship circle.
Yiwen Mao, an international graduate student from China, agreed that those born in the year have a good friendship circle. “I’m very excited because it is my first time celebrating in America,” she said. “Life is a little bit harder here, but with friends, everything [turns out] okay.”Lopez then introduced Father Kettleberg, who blessed the gathering.
“We gather as a community for hope, for justice, for overcoming prejudices to work for all that unites us and working to make the world a better place this new year,” he said.
Next, Yao Ching, president of the Chinese Student Scholar Association (CSSA), taught the audience a few Chinese phrases and also spoke about visiting Beijing this year for the 2008 Olympics in August.
In response, Karl Rutter from the Office of Global Studies talked about the advantages of study abroad programs, which have been created especially for St. John’s students.During the one-month summer program in China, students get the opportunity to see the highlights of the country, while taking classes five days a week and participating in service learning.
Rutter added that many of the students already “embrace the international culture as they are from far foreign lands.” By studying abroad, he said, it will increase students’ cultural experience.
Dr. Bernadette Li, director of the Institute of Asian Studies, will lead this year’s summer program.
Additionally, Dr. Li spoke more about the symbolism of the year of the rat or mouse. She explained that the Chinese believe in the 12 zodiac signs, where “each zodiac represents different kinds of people, to make a world of all different people who have their own talents.”
She said that the rat is the first and smallest animal of the zodiac signs because it can survive anywhere, which makes it the fittest animal under any circumstance.
According to Dr. Li, the animal symbolizes prosperity, treasures and good fortune.
She also said that the year 2008 is special because in Chinese tradition, the number eight is good luck, which is why the Olympics are being held in Beijing this year.
Being a special year, international student Erdi Wang said that she enjoyed the event and was “very happy for the new beginning and a new start.” She was glad to see everyone celebrating the New Year together. Wang added that her goals for this year will be to keep up her high GPA, obtain an internship this summer and graduate next January.
Afterwards, an Asian buffet dinner was served while students enjoyed a special film of a virtual tour of China, presented by Asian Studies.