UCLA celebrates Lunar New Year with annual event
The Multipurpose Room was filled to capacity on Feb. 23 as students gathered to eat, play games and watch guest performances at the United Chinese Language Association of Baruch College’s seventh annual “Lunar New Year Festival.”
Lunar New Year is the celebration of the first day of the lunar calendar and is a term that encompasses the many versions of the holidays celebrated throughout Asia this year. Chinese New Year took place on Jan. 28, beginning the year of the rooster.
There were five headlining performers at the festival: singer Kary Huang, rapper MC Jin, singers Austin Luu and Jason Moy and dance team PUSO Modern. Both Huang and Moy are Baruch College students.
Susan Ngo, the executive secretary of UCLA, explained UCLA’s choices for the festival’s performers.
“Similar to [the Fall Semester 2016] Moon Festival, these performers were chosen to showcase Asian culture and highlight Asian-American performers. We have a great lineup of performers this year who come from all over the city,” wrote Ngo, a finance and investments major, in an email to The Ticker.
One of the most anticipated performers of the night was MC Jin, the first Asian-American rapper ever to be signed by a major record label in the United States. MC Jin—born Jin Au-Yeung—was invited by UCLA to speak about his experiences as an Asian-American rapper and the struggles and triumphs he faced while accomplishing his goals.
MC Jin illustrated his view of being Asian-American for the crowd, giving advice to students who may have faced similar issues with personal identity.
“I think the whole journey is a balancing act. And what I mean by ‘balancing act’ is finding the sweet spot for yourself … where you wake up every day and you look in the mirror and you’re like—‘you know what? I’m comfortable with the balance that I have.’ And what I mean by that balance is: my Asian-ness doesn’t define me,” MC Jin said.
Students could win prizes throughout the festival by competing against other students in games. One game was a relay where different team members had to accomplish different tasks, such as cracking an egg and having one team member eat it raw, picking up and moving marbles with chopsticks and having a team member peel and eat an orange. Another game involved the entire crowd playing Kahoot through mobile devices. Almost 150 players would read multiple-choice questions about Baruch, the Lunar New Year and UCLA, answering them through their devices and having the final tally of votes appear on a large screen in the front of the room for all to see.
There were also multiple raffles, as well as food from the traditions of various Asian countries.
The planning process for “Lunar New Year Festival” began before the 2016 Fall Semester had ended, Ngo explained. UCLA’s Events Committee, which organized the evening along with the executive board, was on a “tight schedule” to find performers and sponsors for an event so early in the Spring Semester.
Ngo noted the benefits of a large Lunar New Year event and the draw it could have on students.
“[UCLA] hopes that the audience will be able to leave the event with a broader knowledge and greater appreciation for Asian culture. And of course, [UCLA] hopes that everyone will have fun and enjoy the many activities, food, prizes and performances,” wrote Ngo.
The “Lunar New Year Festival” has been organized and run by UCLA since 2011, the same year the club won a Bernie award from the Undergraduate Student Government for "Comeback Club."