East Asian Affinity Group celebrates Chinese New Year with traditional food, music


Ryan Chang

Traditional shadow puppets and other decorations line the wall outside Chinese teacher Jing Nan Gea’s classroom for the Lunar New Year.

Grace Randall and Owen Butler

Half a globe away, dragons parade through the streets, red decorations flood every doorway, lanterns drift into the sky and millions of money-filled envelopes transfer from one lucky hand to the next to celebrate the Year of the Pig.

Far closer to home, the festivities continued when East Asian Affinity Group, the designated affinity group of January, embellished the Chao Room with traditional Lunar New Year decorations on Jan. 31 with help from Chinese Club.

Many students who attended the event enjoyed garnished dumplings, crisp sesame balls and authentic Chinese candies. K-Pop, a popular South Korean music genre, roared in the background as club members exposed students to East Asian culture.

“The candy and food [were] top notch and unique — not something that you would encounter and eat [otherwise],” sophomore Kushal Kandel said. “It was a fun way to celebrate the culture of East Asians and the Chinese New Year even for those who aren’t East Asian.”

EAAG invites students from every background to explore various East Asian traditions through Friday-night potlucks, where everyone brings a dish specific to their culture.

“It is important for Asian-American kids to have good, strong, positive Asian-American role models,” EAAG faculty sponsor Joseph Soliman said. “I didn’t really have a teacher like that when I was in high school, but I definitely did when I got to college, and I realized the value of being in an affinity group and exploring identity.”

For sophomore Carolyn DePinho, celebrating the Lunar New Year tradition with EAAG was especially meaningful. According to DePinho, this tradition often seems neglected this time of year.

“Representing any culture in that way is liberating,” DePinho said. “You feel represented, and you feel respected.”