Celebrating Lunar New Year with the Asian Cultural Society

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Clark University’s very own Asian Cultural Society hosted their annual Lunar New Year celebration in Tilton Hall this past Saturday, February 7th to celebrate the New Year in Japan, Vietnam, North Korea, South Korea and Singapore. The night mostly consisted of performances that highlight traditions in these countries. The student club opened the program with the Lion Dance, which was put on by Worcester youth neighborhood dancers. The Lion Dance is “thought to bring good luck. There are usually two dancers. One acts as the head and the other the body. They dance to a drum, cymbals and a gong. On the head of the lion is mirror so that evil spirits will be frightened away by their own reflections”(Top Marks 2015).

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Following the resounding performance, Professor Alice Valentine came on stage for opening remarks in which she highlighted that there were 3 ways Clark University is making Asian connections in the past, present and future that will make a difference in our lives today. She began by reviewing 3 Clark alumni who were Chinese who attended Clark 80 to 90 years ago. These 3 alumni have challenged and changed the world.

The first Clark alumnus who was Chinese came to Clark to earn his BA degree in 1913. Once upon gaining his BA at Clark and eventually getting a PhD at Columbia, this alumnus went back to China to teach at a prestigious university. He was best known as one of the original drafters of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and served along with Eleanor Roosevelt in the committee that drafted the document.

The second Chinese Clark alumnus, who attended Clark for a couple of years and continued his education at Harvard University, became famous at the turn of the 20th century. This individual returned to his native country to China and became the top archaeologist in his generation. His profession lead him to be an asset for groundbreaking important excavations of the Shang Dynasty from 1500-1050 BC.

The last and final Chinese alumnus, Professor Valentine, was a student who attended Clark and studied History. He went on to study at Columbia and then Cambridge University in England. He fell in love with English poetry and went on to become the most famous Chinese poet of the 20th century.

Even when looking back hundreds of years ago, Clark students were challenging convention and changing our world. Clark University’s Chinese alum Professor Valentine went on to discuss ways in which we can find Asian culture in Worcester. We see Asian culture at Clark University through cultural celebrations held by the Asian Cultural Society and we will see Asian culture at the Worcester Art Museum on April 18th in their exhibit titled “Samurai!, ” which highlights Samarian history and culture. This exhibit will show ways in which Japanese and American artists are collaborating to explore Samurai fascination all over the world.

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After Professor Valentine’s discussion, attendees were served traditional Asian cuisines prior to the beginning of the second part of the event, which consisted of more dancing found in countries that celebrate Lunar New Year. The evening concluded with a discussion of ways to continue the celebration of Asian culture and, most importantly, reflecting on the past, present and future heritage of Asia.

-Tarikwa Leveille

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Photos by Demet Senturk

Work Cited
“Topmarks – Primary Resources, Interactive Whiteboard Resources, and Maths and Literacy Games.” Chinese New Year Customs. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Feb. 2015.

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