UCLA’s ‘Lunar New Year Celebration’ rings in the year of the rat


Peter Morgan | The Ticker

Amanda Salazar, Editor-in-Chief

Baruch College’s United Chinese Language Association hosted their “Annual Lunar New Year Celebration” on Feb. 11 to celebrate the year of the rat with the school community.

It was a performance filled night, with a headlining appearance from rapper MC Jin, who many attendees said was the reason they came to the event.

“I’m coming here because MC Jin is here,” said senior Zi Tong, who explained that he’s her idol. She patiently waited, alongside all the other fans, for his arrival, which was scheduled in for the end of the event.

Beyond MC Jin, whose legal name is actually Jin Au-Yeung, there was a traditional lion dance performed by Chinatown’s United Chinese Lion Association, a few dances by a Baruch dance group called Made in China and songs sung by artists Katherine Ho and Michael Joon.

“Being a Korean rapper and singer, it was just nice to have a presence that, well A, was Asian and B, is going into a market completely devoid of a lot of Asian representation,” said Timothy Chan, co-VP of the club’s Cultural Learning Program, who hosted the event alongside his co-VP, Justin Jiang. “It was nice to have him there to pave the way to see a lot of Asian people go into the music industry.”

Joon, a singer, songwriter and rapper, performed a few original songs and raps, followed up by Ho a little later in the night. She sang covers, an original song and then a few songs in Mandarin, including a translated version of Coldplay’s “Yellow.”

In addition to dancers and musicians, two UCLA-made videos were played, one being a Tik-Tok compilation of the club members dancing and the other a “Mean Girls” parody in which all of the characters had the same first names as in the movie, but they were all given Asian last names.

There were also games played throughout the night. 

The first was a scavenger hunt where six players, split into three teams, had to find items from people in the audience. Some items included an umbrella, a bubble tea punch card and a Muji brand notebook.

Later in the evening, a guessing game was played, in which the audience had to act out words displayed on screens, and the players had to figure out what each word was. Student Mohammed Rafeek won this game, though his opponent Alexis Montesinos played a close game.

The participants of both of the games were each given a prize, regardless of whether they won or lost.

The event, held in the Multipurpose Room, was co-sponsored by 18 other clubs and student organizations, including F.U.S.I.O.N., the Bangladesh Student Association and the International Student Organization.

Unlike most Multipurpose Room events, the room was set up with chairs all facing the central stage, likely because the emphasis was meant to be on the performances.

There were no tables and people didn’t go out into the hallway to get food — boxed meals were brought directly to the audience.

Also unlike most Baruch events, the “Lunar New Year Celebration” was filled to capacity, with security cutting off the line and refusing to let people enter the room at some point.

As a result of this, a line formed out of the door, with people hoping to be let in as other students left.

Nelson Cao, UCLA’s president, estimated that there were roughly 300 students in the event, with around another 200 stuck outside, making it the club’s largest event of the year.

This likely occurred, in part or in whole, because many students came to see MC Jin, who did a short rap, faced off against Montesinos in a bonus round of the guessing game and spoke to the audience about his experiences as an Asian-American musician and as a father.

“Whatever you’re doing, whatever you’re pursuing, whatever your passion is, your dream is, man, I wish you all the best in it and even if your parents or your loved ones say to you, ‘That’s not the way,’ you respectfully tell them, ‘I got you, I’ll listen,’ but always listen to your own voice,” the rapper told the audience.

Students who attended the event said that they were glad they went.

“I loved the event, actually,” said freshman Ritchie Chen. “It was a great time, a great experience. Usually going to these events makes everybody feel connected and like they all have something to relate to.”

Others spoke about the performances that were done, such as accounting major Cindy Huang.

“Originally, no offense, but I haven’t heard of them,” she said of the guests. “And I wasn’t sure if I would be interested in their performances, but overall it was pretty good.”

Cao, the club president, spoke with The Ticker about the event.

“The event for Lunar is to basically emphasize family and culture … It is the largest holiday in Chinese culture, so it’s something that we wanted to represent and spread awareness of. That’s the main goal, but we also wanted to give Baruch a night to remember,” he said.

“The importance of Lunar New Year to me is, basically, being united, being in a family. UCLA is my second family, so being around all my peers and all the people that came, the performers, it really united us together. It made me feel like an actual family.”