First Lunar New Year celebration of the year draws over 600

Participants get excited when playing Tacit Agreement which requires them to make a similar pose, based on the word the staff member shouts out, in five seconds without talking to each other. Tacit Agreement was apart of the Lunar New Year celebration on Feb. 18 in the Memorial Union.

Mia (Zhe) Wang

The president of the Chinese Students and Scholars Association (CSSA) Yuqian Ren said he and other CSSA workers wanted to add something new to the annual gala and get more attendees involved.

The first Spring Festival Carnival attracted more than 600 people in attendance on Sunday night. Attendees varied from Iowa State students to Ames residents.

CSSA has been organizing the Spring Festival/Lunar New Year Gala for several years, but this is the first year CSSA had a carnival which included stage performances, interactive games and a Chinese dinner buffet.

“In the past years, we only had performances. By adding games and food, we attracted more people from the Ames community and student community,” said Ren. “We want to bring Chinese culture to more people in Ames and form a stronger bond between Chinese students and Ames residents.”

The games in Sunday night’s event included Fight for Chairs, Ping-Pong Cup, Radish Squat and Guess the Word. The most popular game of the night was the Radish Squat.

Six players made up a nickname for themselves. When the game starts, a players yells nicknames, and eventually “squat.” If the player whose nickname got called didn’t react on time, they would be eliminated.

Many students came to the event to learn about the Lunar New Year and to show support of friends who were on the event planning committee or performers. The event attracted students from other schools to attend, like Emma Anderson from Des Moines Area Community College was there to support her friend Ziqing Ye, sophomore in supply chain management.

“One of the performers in the talent show is my high school best friend, Ziqing. She is singing a song. Plus, we are interested in Chinese culture,” said Anderson. “With Ziqing being my best friend, I experience a lot of Chinese culture first hand, and I want to learn more and eventually go to China to spend a summer with her.”

Several students brought parents to the event. Xiaomei Yin’s daughter goes to Iowa State. She came to America from China in January to spend Lunar New Year with her daughter.

“I heard about this event from my daughter and thought it would be fun.I don’t know anybody in the U.S., so I just came here to celebrate New Year with her and her friends,” said Yin.

Chinese major and minor students were the main attendees of the event. Amanda Skalka, junior in biology, has a Chinese minor. She heard about this event in one of her Chinese classes.

“I had to take a Chinese class for my biology major for the foreign language requirement. It was fun, and I wanted to continue learning. So, I decided to make Chinese my minor,” said Skalka. “When I was a freshman, I did a project on Lunar New Year and learned about some Chinese traditions like lion dance. So, I want to come tonight, experience the culture and have fun.”

The dinner buffet had five Chinese dishes, including Garlic Chicken, Stir Fried Corn with Pine Nuts, Cabbage with Pork, Golden Fried Rice and Bok Choy. All the dishes were prepared by ISU Dining and CSSA workers.

Stage performances started by the Guanghua Lion Dance team. Lion dance is a form of traditional Chinese dance that has been part of the Chinese culture for thousands of years. The lions symbolize power and good fortune that chase away evil spirits and bring happiness to people.

Students of Ames Chinese Language Academy performed two songs for the audience: “Happy New Year” and a Chinese folk song, “Jasmine Flower.”

Yanglong Wang, freshman in mechanical engineering, performed a beatbox routine which brought the night to a high point. He is the top 16 contestant in Chinese BeatBox Battle three years in a row.

Other performances included comedy sketches and popular Chinese songs.

In between the performances, CSSA hosted three giveaways. Prizes included Walmart gift cards, a GoPro, an Apple Watch and a TV.

Another special addition to this year’s CSSA Lunar New Year celebration is the professional stage performance given by a group of experienced performers of the department of culture of the Jiangxi province of China on Feb. 23. Beijing Opera, Chinese acrobatics and Chinese folk dance are all on their program list. So, the celebration is still not over yet.