Chinese New Year celebration brings cultural activities, music, food

Pittsburgh's Steel Dragon honors IUP President Michael Driscoll with an offering of the Chinese banner during celebration of the Chinese New Year in the Hadley Union Building Ohio Room Feb 9. (Nick Dampman/ ThePenn)

The Ohio Room of the Indiana University of Pennsylvania’s Hadley Union Building touted dragons, dumplings and drums Sunday as community members, IUP students and faculty celebrated the Chinese New Year.

The free, public event put on by the Office of International Education, spanned from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday in welcoming the Year of the Horse, which began Jan. 31.

“I’m really impressed with the turnout here,” IUP President Michael Driscoll said. “The fact that we can come together and celebrate a Chinese holiday and learn so much about China’s culture and history is a remarkable statement about a wonderful place here.

“I think it says a lot about our hope for the future of the world that we’re all here together. This is just a great thing in Indiana and at IUP that really brings us together in a great way.”

Organized by IUP’s Chinese Language Program, Chinese Student Association and the Southwestern University of Finance and Economics Exchange Students Association, the celebration included performances, games and cultural activities, music and food.

Chinese language course students performed songs and skits at the event, and local children performed as well.

Nakisha Cohen (sophomore, English) was among the student performers. Along with her Chinese Language 102 classmates, Nakisha performed a song at the event and said that she would “no doubt do it again.”

A 481-level Chinese Poetry class performed the Chinese tale of Nian, according to Gbenga Esuruoso (senior, international business).

“Nian is a monster that terrorizes the city, and he comes year-by-year right before New Years, and there’s an old man that tells the secret of beating Nian – which is loud noises and red – and through our class we decided to perform that.”

Although the performance was his first at the celebration, Esuruoso said he has come to the Chinese New Year celebration many times before and would definitely continue to attend.

Pittsburgh’s Gong Lung (Steel Dragon) Kung Fu and Lion and Dragon Dance group performed the Lion Dance – a traditional dance in Chinese culture.

According to Dr. Shijuan “Laurel” Liu, IUP’s assistant professor of Chinese, this celebration is the biggest of the past celebrations.

“There’s always a Chinese New Year celebration, just in different ways,” Liu said. “I think of this as the first time we had a real program because we’ve involved the Chinese language students and the local children.

“I think that makes it not only for Chinese students but local community people and anyone who wants to come no matter what age.”