The Chinese Student Association (CSA) rung in the Lunar New Year with over 370 Hopkins students last Friday, pushing the Glass Pavilion to its limit.
Due to the huge turnout, CSA President David Cui said that some students without pre-purchased discount tickets had to be turned away at the door.
“Every year we have a lot of people, but we are at the point that we are getting to be too big for the Glass Pavilion,” he said. “This is one of the largest Asian events for the Asian community, [and it] is a good opportunity to meet others and build a stronger Asian community to share our Chinese culture.”
CSA invited other Asian cultural groups including the Filipino Student Association (FSA), Hong Kong Students Association (HKSA), the Taiwanese American Students Association (TASA) and the Japanese American Student Association (JASA) to join the celebration. They helped sponsor the event and provide additional dishes.
Cui, a junior, describes the collaboration as a way of celebrating all Asian cultures.
“Lunar New Year is not called a ‘Chinese’ holiday. It is really important in Chinese culture, but it is also important in other Asian cultures as well,” he said.
The event also featured performances by the Hopkins Breakers, the JHU Yong Han Lion Dance Troupe, the JHU Humming Jay and Music Dynasty. The JHU Yong Han Lion Dance Troupe’s performance is a popular request, especially during the New Year celebrations, and troupe president Margot Hultz said that she enjoyed performing at the event.
“It was pretty fun. Lion dance is... really close to my heart,” she said. “We’re really happy that CSA had such a turnout. It was a lot more crowded than we were expecting.”
To accommodate the scope of the event, Cui delegated tasks like booking rooms, writing grants and publicizing the event to the 50-member CSA board. Cui explained that they looked to previous years’ events to learn and improve.
“In previous years a lot of the food ran out very quickly because we had so many people. This year we... ordered around $2,000 of food. We also used the wristband system to call people... to get food,” he said.
The promise of catered food and various performances attracted many students, but some were unsatisfied with the wait for food.
“Since they had run the event multiple times, I felt they should have been better prepared... and better managed the mishap of late food delivery,” senior Eric Ong wrote in an email to The News-Letter.
Despite the late food delivery, Cui believes the club handled it well. To stall the dinner, the CSA board worked to rearrange the performance times.
“The food arrived two hours late. It was out of [our] control, but we adjusted and adapted,” he said. “I’m really proud of my board because they were very hardworking.”
Students were able to still enjoy the event and take away an appreciation for the culture. CSA Programming Chair Victoria Lui said her mission was to increase cultural awareness. She worked to help develop a trivia quiz to make the event more than just a food event.
“When you ask about Chinese culture, there’s always [people who say] ‘oh those foods. I know General Tso sells chicken but don’t really know about the traditions or cultures,’” Lui said.
In addition to the cultural quiz, the CSA board worked to post various cultural tidbits about the event in the days leading up to it.
The appreciation for culture resonated well with students. Freshman Vanessa Richards said that she attended the event in order to learn.
“It’s just really cool to learn and experience different cultures. Hopkins is a pretty diverse place for the most part, so I might as well learn about the people that I’m going to school [with],” she said.
For others, like freshman Sophia Song, the event was another example of how Hopkins creates a home away from home for its students.
“Because my family always celebrated at home, I wanted a place to celebrate at school too,” she said. “It was very welcoming. It felt like home.”
For next semester, Cui said that students can anticipate an Iron Chef event with several different cultural groups competing as well as a collaboration with the Buddhist Student Association to explore the intersection between religion and culture.