Dancing in the moonlight: QU Asian Student Alliance celebrates Lunar New Year

Aidan Sheedy, Copy Editor

In a gymnasium draped in red and shimmering gold, the Asian Student Alliance celebrated the Lunar New Year on Friday with a magical night of lucky rabbits, mystic dragons and ceremonial dancing.

Lunar New Year, according to the QU ASA Instagram, is a rich cultural tradition for many East Asian countries that lasts for 11 days and signifies the beginning of the year and the spring season. Although this one-night-only celebration had delicious food, games, a photo booth, crafts and a dance performance from the ASA executive board that blew everyone away.

The crowd of attendees lit up as the team jumped out from behind the makeshift stage curtains wearing red T-shirts and waving paper fans to a choreographed dance.

“A lot of our actual sweat and tears got put into this,” Co-President Ashley Hong said. “We wanna show you guys a really special tradition to us.”

In years prior, the ASA had hired a professional dance group from New York to perform, but that could not happen this year, so the team felt it was necessary to try something different.

“This year we wanted to make it special, a little more personal,” said Hong, a senior health science studies major in the occupational therapy program. “We spent hours practicing this dance for a couple times a week for a few hours each.”

In fact, it was general-board member Sarah Nguyen that ran the show behind the scenes. Nguyen shared a Vietnamese fan dance she did with her church organization and wanted to pass along her knowledge to a student group she cares about.

“I really enjoyed our practices together,” Nguyen said. “But that was just the scope of what I did with them.”

Typically, Nguyen is the student learning the dance, but this time she was the teacher.

“It was weird, especially because I’m used to being taught the dances,” Nguyen said. “This was like me getting the torch passed down to me.”

Naomi Gorero, ASA’s public relations director, was in the center of the triangular formation flaunting a rabbit-ear hat, honoring 2023 as the year of the rabbit. Gorero, a junior sociology major, said she had performed before, but most of the rest had not.

“Not a lot of us are dancers,” Gorero said. “Sometimes we’re just robots.”

But these robots were a unit.

“I think the dance helped us have better teamwork as the ASA,” Gorero said. “I was saying to myself, ‘you better not drop these fans or else we’ll pass out.’”

As one of 11 cultural, spiritual or identity-based student organizations on campus, the ASA aims to break the barriers between cultures of the Asian continent, according to Do You QU.

“When I want to be mindful of other people and be more inclusive, I realize that it’s a global thing,” Hong said. “New Year’s is not for one country.”

The holiday’s name, “Lunar New Year,” may sound different from the former “Chinese New Year.” The inclusive term is used because the holiday is not celebrated exclusively in China, but in all countries that use the lunar calendar system. North and South Korea, Malaysia, the Philippines, Indonesia, Singapore, Brunei and Vietnam are all other countries that observe, according to Time Magazine.

The food, of course, was a big hit. Only 30 minutes into the event, there were only scraps of chicken lo mein and a few cold dumplings remaining.

Hong said her favorite food of the night was the fresh-steamed Har gow, a Cantonese dim sum-style dumpling. She could not get over the taste of the crystal shrimp, and neither could Gianna Moreno, a sophomore health sciences studies major in the occupational therapy program.

“I think it was really fun,” Moreno said. “You got to learn a lot … and everyone seems like they’re having a fun time.”

The Lunar New Year celebration is one way of exposing the Quinnipiac University community to multiculturalism, and Moreno sees the importance.

“Quinnipiac already doesn’t have a high diversity rate,” she said. “I think having events like these are good.”

Quinnipiac is toward the bottom of nearly every ranking in that category. The current student makeup is 81.1% white, according to the university’s website. But events like this bring together students from all backgrounds.

“Right here there’s a lot of people of different backgrounds and cultures,” Morero said. “And they want to experience Lunar New Year.”

The ASA put together a great celebration to really ring in the new year and a new season for change. The round of applause was everyone’s token of appreciation.

“One thing a lot of things cultural (organizations) want to bring out is making people feel welcome and also expose them to (different) cultures,” Morero said. “Having ASA can cover a bigger demographic of the Asian community.”