By Aye Myat, Staff Writer
Photos courtesy of ASA Historian Ysabel Yutangco ('15)
The year of the rooster has begun. Here at the University of Redlands, students held a celebration to ring in the Lunar New Year. The event was held on February 5th in Casa Loma and included a myriad of performances from traditional Japanese dances to Mandarin skits about love. Hosted by the Asian Student Association and the Asian Studies department, the celebration brought together the small but lively Asian/Asian-American community on campus.
The celebration was not limited to dances and skits, as there were also several activities that promoted cultural education. Games like Karuta, a competitive Japanese picture matching game, allowed for participants to learn what animals and fruits were called in Japanese. Other activities like calligraphy allowed participants to learn the delicate art form.
While the Japanese skit showed off temple customs, the Mandarin skit “Rent a Boyfriend” provided some comic relief. With a translation in the background, the skit referenced the rent-a-boyfriend service that exists in China. Senior Global Business and Asian Studies double major Chris Kinney was an actor in this skit, and said:
“I was surprised that the crowd reacted the way they did when they only had a simple translation. It was great to see people laugh at our jokes and portrayals. We tried to be as dramatic as possible and I think Hedy and Phillip’s performances as the mother and girlfriend, respectively, helped set a casual atmosphere. “
The celebration closed off with one final performance from the Japanese classes, a dance called the Soran Bushi. Meant to represent fishers fishing and gathering the bundles afterwards, the dancers showed off a great amount of energy. With loud verbal commands and powerful movements, paired with the traditional happi attire, it was a sight to see. Senior Global Business Major Ellis Tran, head choreographer of the Soran Bushi, said:
“It was an incredibly rewarding experience to be able to lead and perform the Soran Bushi dance for the Lunar New Year’s event. While the dance isn't specifically meant for New Year’s, it's one of the most traditional and energetic Japanese dances that is still widely performed in the country today. It represents older times where fishing was one of the main methods of sustenance in rural Japan. I'm so proud that so many people decided to dedicate their time and quad muscles to the performance and I hope a lasting cultural impression was made on everyone involved.”
Overall, the celebration showed off the diversity of the Asian/Asian American community on campus. Despite having only a small percentage of the student population, it was inspiring to see the cultural education and enthusiasm put forward.