The Asian Student Alliance did more than spread good luck for Lunar New Year

Toyloy Brown III, Managing Editor

The Asian Student Alliance offered calligraphy and other activities in its Lunar New Year celebration. Photo by (Peyton McKenzie)

Strength. Bravery. Exorcizing evils. These are qualities that many desire and are some of the symbolic characteristics of 2022, the year of the Tiger in the Chinese zodiac.

Quinnipiac University’s Asian Student Alliance returned to its ritualized Lunar New Year celebration with the community on Feb. 16.

Lunar New Year marks the start of a long-awaited spring, ushering out the old year and bringing forth prosperity. Also known as the Spring Festival, it is the most important holiday in Chinese culture and is observed in other Asian countries like Singapore and Vietnam. This year, Feb. 1, marked the first new moon of the lunar calendar and the beginning of Lunar New Year.

ASA used this special occasion to invite all members of the university and bring them good luck. That fortune was channeled through the red decor in the upper levels of Cafe Q on the Mount Carmel campus as well as the red attire worn by the executive board.

“Red symbolizes prosperity and good luck,” said Ashley Hong, vice president of ASA and a junior occupational therapy major. “We have all these red decorations and red couplets and everything because the more red you wear, the more lucky the year will be.”

The luck doesn’t stop there. The ASA served cultural foods at the celebration that symbolize favorable qualities as well. Noodles from lo mein dishes represent the longevity of life. Dumplings mean wealth as they resemble the shape of an ancient Chinese gold ingot.

The true embodiment of good fortune may have been the fact that everyone experienced this ASA event in the same place, especially since in-person events have been few and far between throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ben Liu, ASA’s faculty co-advisor for nearly 13 years and a marketing professor, said he was pleased with the event’s gregarious nature.

“We haven’t been able to do the (Lunar New Year) event in person for the last two years,” Liu said. “It’s nice to be able to see people, real people.”

Gillian Chung, co-president of ASA and a senior nursing major, concurred and remarked on the difference between last year’s Lunar New Year bingo compared to this year’s more traditional celebration.

“It’s nice seeing everyone in person after being on Zoom (last year),” Chung said. “I never saw people in real life … So I think it’s just nice seeing everyone’s faces.

“Bingo was crazy, that was like 200, 300 people. But I think that was because it was on Zoom, it’s just easier, and I know we have a lot of commuter students in our club and we did have big, big prizes.”

Prizes were once again given away this year but this time to the top three winners of a Kahoot! trivia. One of the prizes was a Lunar New Year-themed Barbie doll.

After ASA e-board members gave a brief presentation on the holiday, attendees entered the game code to participate in the trivia for the night.

Colby Chung, a second-year in the physician assistant program, was one of the three winners. He said he favored this year’s event over last year’s, and it was not simply because he won a moon-shaped Lunar New Year lamp.

“I thought it was a really great sense of community that we built, and I think just having it in person was really great,” Chung said.

The evening featured a number of activities for participants to engage in. A couple of them were of the arts and crafts variety such as origami and paper-lantern making. There was also a table for people to learn or practice writing Chinese calligraphy.

“A lot of the people who came here came from a Chinese class in this school,” Hong said. “So they were able to apply their Chinese writing skills to this calligraphy.

“I think this is our biggest turnout for any event.”

If arts and crafts and calligraphy weren’t someone’s forte, there was a table with Lunar New Year-themed Legos.

Outside of socializing with people of different backgrounds, building the Legos was one of the best parts of the night for Zach Saracino, a third-year biochemistry major in the 3+1 molecular biology program.

“I’ve been a sucker for Legos since I was a kid,” Saracino said. “It was a special Lunar New Year Lego set and I was like, ‘Oh I got to finish this.’”

Although the atmosphere was light and lively as the ASA rang in the brand-new year, the togetherness served another purpose, a more discreet one. The communal affair provided relief and a safe space for Asian students, especially as atrocities against Asians have become too common in the U.S.

Anti-Asian hate crime increased by 339% nationwide in 2021 compared to 2020, according to the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism. Already in 2022, the nonsensical and appalling murders of Michelle Alyssa Go and Christina Yuna Lee have devastated people.

The ASA’s Lunar New Year celebration was a comforting haven for its Asian students and a reminder for those who aren’t to remain compassionate.

“I just want everyone to know to support your Asian community,” Gillian Chung said. “It’s been tough lately. I know for a lot of other people too, but the Asian community we’ve been pretty hit hard with hate crimes and everything. So if you have friends, just tell them you’re there to support them and you’re there for them.”