Lunar New Year Dinner Offers Homemade Chinese Food and Student Presentations

Wendy Wu ’20 drew a bow against her erhu, a two-stringed traditional Chinese instrument, with quick, striking motions. Playing a lively tune, her fingers skated up and down the neck of the instrument. Her performance of the Chinese song “Brother is Coming Home” at this year’s Lunar New Year Friendship Dinner ended with a single drawn-out chord.

“I’ve been playing this [piece] for the past two years and performing it a lot of times, so I’m relatively familiar with it. Also, it is actually suited to this occasion. It’s suitable for this event, and I actually know what it means. I can actually put it into words and what it’s supposed to be expressing,” said Wu.

Wu’s erhu performance was one part of this year’s celebration held in honor of Lunar New Year. Organized annually by Andover Chinese Students Association (ACSA) and Lilia Cai-Hurteau, Instructor and Chair in Chinese and Japanese, this year’s event also featured a presentation about the culture and history of Chinese Lunar New Year.

Cai-Hurteau said, “I think [Wu]’s performance was amazing. I would love to have more aspects from other Asian countries. We want to showcase a diversity within the Asian population, and we don’t only celebrate one way. It means something different for different Asian countries.”

“[A lot of people] don’t get the chance to [celebrate Lunar New Year], especially when they’re far away from home, and essentially as our biggest event, we raise money to donate to charity. So we celebrate it, we have good food, and it’s for a good cause,” said Eden Cui ’19, president of ACSA.

The Lunar New Year dinner also served many different types of Chinese food, such as mapo tofu, jiaozi — a type of Chinese dumpling — and homemade noodles.

“I was looking at photos of sautéed string beans a few hours before, and when I arrived in the room, I saw they actually had it. I must say the food was incredibly well-cooked. It’s so refreshing to have food that tastes like what your mom makes at home, especially when I’m literally halfway across the globe from where I live,” wrote attendee Jennifer Lu ’19 in an email to The Phillipian.

“The students from ACSA and Asian Society are supposed to try and contact day students’ parents, so the idea is that it’s a community dinner. It’s for people who may be Asian that celebrate Lunar New Year, but also may [be people who] just want to learn about the culture. And so we wanted to involve the local students and parents who would be excited to share their culture,” said Cai-Hurteau.

The presentation included a segment presented by Andover Korean Society (AKS) which detailed how the Lunar New Year is celebrated in Korea. According to Erica Nam ’19, co-head of AKS, this segment allowed students to also learn about Korean culture during Korean Awareness Week on campus.

“I hope many Chinese students learned that the Korean Lunar New Year celebration is very similar to that of China. With that in mind, I think students from both countries, or of both [ethnicities], could further affiliate with each other,” wrote Nam in an email to The Phillipian.

According to ACSA board member David Tsai ’18, the most important part of the holiday is celebrating all types of Asian culture.

“For Eden and I specifically, we wanted to celebrate the Lunar New Year through a Chinese lens, but there are many different types of backgrounds that students in ACSA and students in Korean Society come from. Our main motive for having this event is to make sure that it’s reaching as far diverse a group as possible,” said Tsai.