Chinese New Year gala celebrates start of year of the dragon

Liz Zabel

The Chinese Students and Scholars Association hosted the Chinese Dragon Year Gala for the Chinese New Year on Sunday night at the Memorial Union.

The event began with a dinner supplied by Mongolian Buffet, located in the basement of Memorial Lutheran Church.

For $5, which included the price of the ticket to the show afterward, anyone could come enjoy the food.

Traditional Chinese spring festival music could be heard while coming down the stairs to the church’s basement. The room was filled with Chinese and American students, professors and local Ames residents all coming together to celebrate.

“It’s a perfect time to get together with the Chinese community,” said Han Ning, senior in economics and retired president of the CSSA.

Xuefei Zhao, graduate student in agricultural and biosystems engineering, said that Chinese people love to come together and have large parties to bring in the new year.

“Today is the big event, so we come to celebrate,” she said. “Lots of my friends come here, and I don’t want to be home alone on Sunday.”

After the dinner, everyone made their way to the Memorial Union’s Great Hall for a cultural display and performances from both ISU and University of Iowa Chinese students.

In the back of the Great Hall, tables were set up for a tea ceremony, a Chinese clothing display and calligraphy.

When the lights began to dim, audience members made their way to their seats.

The presentations began with the Malaysia Lion Team performing “The Dragon Auspicious.” Beats of a drum filled the room with sound, then cymbals joined in. The percussive beats created the rhythm to a dance between three Chinese dragons who then made their way down the aisle of the Great Hall and joined a masked man when they reached the stage.

After a bit of choreographed dance, the dragons threw candy into the audience for children to run up and grab.

Following the dance, James Dorsett, International Students and Scholars director, was invited to the stage for a quick speech that he directed toward the Chinese students in the audience.

He encouraged the students to become dragons, which he described as strong, wise, and adventurous.

“Put [this] together with the irresistible source of a cyclone and you will be unstoppable,” Dorsett said.

Students from the University of Iowa performed in skits and others played in a band called Jet Lag.

Jingtao Wang, graduate student in interdisciplinary graduate studies, said the songs the band played were meaningful for Chinese students and were intended to encourage young people. “Old Boy,” a popular song in China, was specifically directed toward the international students.

“It’s about their struggle here, but there is still hope,” Wang said. “It’s a very good song.”

The night was filled with traditional Chinese performances to celebrate the Chinese New Year, which began last Monday.