The Chinese Spring Festival was celebrated Wednesday, Feb. 8 by the Foreign Language Department. The event took place in Blum 218 and 219. Chinese professor Tiantian Zou helped orchestrate the event. She is a full-ride scholar from China and is teaching at Missouri Western this year and afterwards returning back home.
“I’m enjoying my year here, I teach students Chinese and they teach me English,” Zou said. “We learn a lot.”
The Chinese program, which is one of the newest language programs here at Western, currently hires different Chinese instructors to come teach at Western for one full year to learn about American culture, improve their English skills and teach the campus about their culture.
“Next semester another fullbright scholar will come here and go on with the Chinese program and there will be more Chinese events,” Zou said.
Roughly 50 students showed up to this year’s event. It started at 3:30 p.m. and ran about two hours. Refreshments were offered in the form of tea and apple and lemon and mint flavored hard Chinese candy.
Zou believes it helps the students to research the culture and gain experience presenting. The students who presented their topics were strictly on a volunteer basis.
Students from Zou’s Chinese 100 and 101 classes presented topics about the Chinese New Year. From the Chinese Zodiac to native dances of South China, 18 presentations were involved.
Kara Benhan presented about the year of the dragon, which is this year. In China the dragon symbolizes power and wealth and is the sign of the emperor. Each of the twelve zodiacs represents a different year and animal. In China, zodiac also represents a person’s age.
Student Alicia Rice presented a topic called “Red Envelopes,” which the Chinese symbolize as gift-giving. Red envelopes were given as a gift around the holiday. The envelopes held money that adults would give children to protect them, because children were seen as weaker and more susceptible to evil spirits. The red color of the envelope symbolizes good luck and is suppose to ward off evil.
The festival is about welcoming the New Year and coming together as a family, Zou said. The spring festival lasts 15 days and each day holds specific meaning. Several of the students at the event said they would not mind helping out again. The Festival also had slideshows covering fireworks, family gatherings and the significance of lantern festival.
“Doing the projects lets you get a glimpse into the life,” Chinese student Ceasera Robinson said. “A lot of international students help you understand their culture better.”