East Asian student groups at NU celebrate Lunar New Year virtually and with limited in-person events


Artwork courtesy of Meher Yeda

Lunar New Year is traditionally celebrated with a large family gathering and dinner. This year, East Asian groups at Northwestern are celebrating by sharing food and hosting Zoom events.

Katrina Pham, Reporter

East Asian student groups at Northwestern still planned events online and in-person to celebrate the Lunar New Year together.

Many East Asian countries use the lunar calendar, and student groups at NU such as Chinese Students Association, Korean American Student Association and Vietnamese Student Association hold events each year to celebrate. To Communication junior and VSA President Megan Nguyen, Lunar New Year is a time to reconnect and spend time with her family. Nguyen said this time may be difficult for students on campus spending their first Lunar New Year away from their families.

“Lunar New Year is one of the most important holidays in our culture and you usually celebrate it with your entire family,” Nguyen said.

So, Nguyen said she and the other Vietnamese Student Association board members planned to give care packages to fellow students to help them “feel a little less lonely,” and know that “they can celebrate Lunar New Year with us at Northwestern.”

Students participated in VSA’s Tết event over Zoom on Friday, Feb. 12, which included traditional Vietnamese games like lắc bầu cua and a free care package to be contactlessly delivered to them.

In past years, KASA would host an event in Parks Hall to celebrate Seollal, Korean New Year. There, SESP junior and KASA President Sydney Gil said that they would host a presentation and have traditionally themed games and hanboks for attendees to try on. This year, Gil said that with the restrictions on in-person gatherings, they are giving away food for students to take home instead.

KASA planned a pick-up event at Norris University Center where students could pick up Korean food like Gimbap (Kimbap) or rice cake soup.

Gil said she is glad that she can still share food with other students despite being unable to celebrate together in person like they have in the past.

“It makes me happy that (students) can at least experience that,” Gil said. “It’s a nice feeling how, even though you don’t get to eat together, you still get to contribute and share that part with other people.”

Gil said she’s happy to share her culture with other students and see the “similarities and differences” between traditions and those of other cultures. Tradition and family are an important part of East Asian culture, Gil said, and celebrating as a group helped students form a multicultural community.

CSA and Taiwanese American Students Club hosted Celebrasia, an annual Lunar New Year celebration that included guest presentations, student-produced skits and more. This year, Celebrasia was held over Zoom, but still featured performances by magician Kevin Li and dancer Bailey Sok.

McCormick senior and CSA President Olivia Cong said she hoped Celebrasia will bring Asian culture to students at NU.

“Recently Asian American representation in popular media has really exploded which is very, very exciting,” Cong said. “I hope just like as a cultural club on campus, we sort of celebrate that and really bring that to the students.”

Wendy Klunk contributed reporting.

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Twitter: @KatrinaPham_  

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