The Confucius Institute brings together the university community for the Lunar New Year.
By B. L. Wilson
George Washington University students and friends and lovers of Asian culture rang in the Year of the Rooster and the Lunar New Year Monday night at the Charles E. Smith Center.
Bright red fabrics draped Colonials Club tables, which also sported centerpieces of mock firecrackers. Participants dined on pot stickers, dumplings, satay and other bite-sized foods.
For the fourth year, the Confucius Institute in collaboration with the Sigur Center for Asian Studies and the Department of East Asian Languages and Literature brought together people from throughout the D.C. area for a series of events to hail the Lunar New Year--a Chinese and Korean tradition closely linked to other Asian festivals.
More than 150 participated in the Monday night event that featured performances by District K, a GW students’ Korean pop dance group, sophomore singer Yi Zhao and a flute solo by School of Engineering and Applied Science PhD candidate Dian Hu. Seniors Mark Schaefer and Yunmo Li shared emcee responsibilities.
Shoko Hamano, an assistant professor in the Department of East Asian Languages and Literature, shared a story of a Japanese tradition, Setsubun, borrowed from the Chinese. She described how a member of the family or village in the guise of a masked demon visits each home to inquire whether the children have been good each year. Dr. Hamano then led the audience in a Japanese chant of “Oni wa soto! Fuku Wa uchi” (Demons out! Good fortune in), as candy and soybean treats were tossed to the audience.
A highlight of the evening was an impromptu song in Chinese, “Gongxi ni, gongxi ni,” or congratulations, by Coreah and Sienna Rollins, 6 and 4 years old, from the Yu Ying Public Charter School, a Chinese immersion school in the District. Timothy Kane, associate director of inclusion initiatives in GW’s Multicultural Student Services Center, enlisted the two on the spot.
George Washington President Steven Knapp ended the celebration with a description of the fire rooster, which represents the Year of the Rooster.
“The fire rooster has the attributes of courage, resourcefulness and talent. Those who are born in the year of the rooster are known for being confident,” Dr. Knapp said. Even if GW students could not possibly all have been born in the same year, he said, “that is an especially appropriate description for them.”
Prizes raffled by presenters included a silk scarf, a scroll of calligraphy and a stuffed rooster doll.
Avia Zhang, a freshman from the Qingdao province of China, said she enjoyed the celebration. “It definitely had a Chinese flavor,” she said.