IR/PS celebrates Lunar New Year

    Students, faculty and professional performing groups came together to celebrate Asian culture at the annual Asian New Year Festival, held by the Graduate School of International Relations and Pacific Studies on Feb. 3.

    Courtesy of Amie Hrabak
    Guardian

    “”The purpose of this event was to celebrate the Asian New Year and share among peers different Asian culture, language, music, dress, food and drinks,”” said Rithya Tang, vice president external of the Pacific International Affairs Student Organization, the student body government organization for IR/PS.

    The festival opened with a traditional Chinese lion dance performed by the Bach Van Lion Dance Team from the Hung Vuong Sports Club in San Diego. The audience was encouraged to participate by feeding lucky red envelopes to the lions.

    Mannam, an IR/PS Korean student organization, invited tae kwan do ninth-degree black belt master and international referee Nam Kim to perform various exercises and board-breaking feats.

    First-year IR/PS graduate student Han Chen performed competition-style tai chi at the festival. With a background in both tae kwan do and karate, and having studied tai chi intensively for a summer in Beijing, Chen said he wanted to share this aspect of Chinese culture with others.

    “”I really want to bring Asian culture to the graduate school setting,”” Chen said. “”We’re usually pretty busy with school, and a lot of the aspects of Asian culture that we enjoy aren’t really brought out in our coursework Ö We find out why we’re interested in this region and see each region’s special dances and martial arts.””

    The festival featured an international fashion show, in which student groups modeled traditional clothing from China, Korea, Japan and Thailand.

    Other events at the festival included a set of Khmer dance performances courtesy of the Southeast Asia Link group from IR/PS and a lesson in contemporary “”ikebana”” ó Japanese-style flower arrangement ó from professional Takao Kikuchi and students from the Japanese classes at the graduate school.

    “”Ikebana is based on the concept of perfect flowers, which don’t exist in the real world,”” Kikuchi said.

    The festival ended with a performance of a scene from “”Journey to the West”” by students from Chinese classes. “”Journey to the West”” is a classic Chinese story about a monkey with supernatural powers who must accompany a monk on a quest to obtain holy Buddhist scriptures. Chen was responsible for writing the script of the performance.

    Students at the festival felt that this year’s events were successful.

    “”This year I think would be the best,”” said Peng Zeng, a second-year graduate student who co-hosted the festival. “”The performances really showed the Chinese culture, the Korean culture [and the] Japanese culture, and we got a lot of IR/PS students involved in the whole thing. It’s definitely a collective action.””

    Although PIASO did the major coordinating for the events, IR/PS student groups also contributed their efforts. Participating groups included Mannam, South East Asia Link, China Focus and Asameshikai.

    The Graduate School of IR/PS has a high percentage of students from overseas. The school offers programs with regional specialization in Japan, China, Korea, Southeast Asia and Latin America.

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