On Friday, Jan. 27 at 6 p.m., a sizable and excited crowd of Drew students and faculty packed into Crawford Hall to enjoy the festivities of Drew’s Lunar New Year Celebration. Organized by Drew’s Asian Student Union, Chinese Student Association and Drew Nightlife, it brought people from all over the Drew community together. Some came for the food, some came for the games but many came for a sense of community and familiarity.
There were many activities at the Lunar New Year Celebration, but the night began with a buffet that featured a variety of regional Chinese cuisine. Although the food and much of the decor was based around the Chinese Lunar New Year traditions, speakers Renzo Bass and Tamayo Zhou emphasized that Lunar New Year is important in many countries across Asia, such as Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Koreas.
After enjoying the food, there was a Kahoot trivia game about Lunar New Year, a somewhat intense game of Hot Potato, paper lantern construction and karaoke. These exciting things were not what made the Drew Lunar New Year Celebration important. Rather, it was the sense of community and engagement with international students that made it significant.
“We have a huge international population over here, where many of them celebrate Lunar New Year. We’re producing a community and space for them at Drew.” said Zhou, a member of the International Student and Scholar Services staff. “If you look at Drew Nightlife events, normally, international students don’t show up. So for me, personally, it is a great opportunity to bring the international students to the EC, to actually feel comfortable with the space, and hopefully they can join the nightlife events in the future.”
Zhou also emphasized it is important to remember that approximately 20 percent of Drew Students are international, quite a notable portion. For those who are away from home, the familiarity and comfort of being able to celebrate a holiday that is meaningful to them with people from their community is what made the Lunar New Year at Drew so significant.
Zhou said that this is not the end of events he has been working on to engage students. A panel is being planned with Asian faculty members to provide life advice and guidance to students in March, and there will be another celebratory event in April. It seems clear this is not the end of this increased international student engagement, but hopefully, just the beginning.
For more information about Drew’s Asian Student Union, check out their Instagram page @drew_asu. For more information about Drew’s Chinese Student Association and upcoming events, check them out on the Path. For more information about Drew Nightlife and upcoming events, check out their Instagram page @drewstuact.
Max Odell is a first-year majoring in anthropology.