Students celebrate pandemic-era Lunar New Year on campus

by Andrew Sasser and Emily Lu | 2/15/21 2:05am

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by Sophie Bailey / The Dartmouth Senior Staff

Students on campus rang in the Year of the Ox in a variety of ways over the past week. To celebrate the Lunar New Year, which took place on Feb. 12 this year, campus organizations held virtual and in-person celebrations, including a craft night and a free bubble tea event. 

Celebrations kicked off on Feb. 8 with a crafting event co-hosted by the Office of Pluralism and Leadership, the International Students Association and the Asian American Mentoring Program, in which participants made an origami ox.

“It's just important to have unity and community … Lunar New Year is a time when you're usually with your family,” OPAL Pan-Asian student coordinator Mehak Batra ’24 said. “For students who are not really with their family, I think it's an important time to have that community.”

Batra said that around eight students attended the origami event.

In addition, the Pan-Asian student coordinators displayed a bulletin board in the Collis Center that provided information on the various East Asian and Southeast Asian cultures that celebrate the holiday — which, while often referred to as Chinese New Year in American culture, is observed as Seollal in South Korea and Tết in Vietnam.

On Feb. 12, the Dartmouth Asian Organization gave out free bubble tea from 4U Bubble Tea at Carson Hall. According to DAO president Alex Soong ’21, in addition to “bring[ing] a little joy” to the Dartmouth community, the event helped to support the new local boba shop.

Soong noted that the Lunar New Year programming was central to community-building, especially among those in the Asian community.

“These kinds of events are a great way to promote positivity and community in a time when we're very isolated from each other due to the restrictions and the pandemic,” Soong said. [Celebrating] Asian identity, … holidays and festivities is just super important.”

Elaina Lee ’24 said that while there was a long line at Carson, she attributed it to the Dartmouth Asian Organization’s “really good job” of hosting and advertising the event. DAO distributed around 70 bubble teas and ran out in under an hour, according to Soong. 

Soong said that because bubble tea is individually packaged and can be distributed safely to students, it was an ideal way to celebrate Lunar New Year amid the pandemic. 

“Normally when celebrating Lunar New Year with family, food and drink are really central to building community,” Soong said. “... Even though we're not able to gather and really celebrate in the traditional sense, we thought that bubble tea is something that everyone really likes and is perfect to hand out.”

Soong added that the event also helped to promote Asian identity on campus, since bubble tea is “super popular and iconic” and “representative of Asian culture.”

Additionally, the Chinese Language House hosted a virtual Lunar New Year celebration on Feb. 11 with videos of student performances. The Hopkins Center for the Arts is also hosting virtual Lunar New Year programming throughout the month, beginning with a conversation with the creators of Netflix’s animated musical “Over The Moon” on Feb. 10. Other events include a dumpling making class on Tuesday and a shadow puppet workshop on Friday.