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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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A celebration of culture

Lunar+Calendar
Photo by Photo by Casey O’Neil
Lunar Calendar

The Confucius Institute at Texas A&M rung in the Lunar New Year with a festival full of games and performances on campus this past weekend.
The 9th annual Lunar New Year celebration was held at the George Bush Presidential Library & Museum by the university’s Confucius Institute. Performances such as the Lion and Dragon dance marked the event as well as various arts and crafts booths.
According to Chinese astrology, each year is deemed a zodiac animal according to a 12-year cycle. 2018 is an earth dog year. The Lunar New Year is celebrated throughout Asia with large parties full of light and sound, but this event focused specifically on Chinese culture.
“Around here a lot of people just don’t have much experience with China and they probably don’t know a lot about it,” said Amanda Johnson, program coordinator for the Confucius Institute. “We think that this event is a great opportunity for people who may never leave Bryan College Station to experience a totally different culture than the one they are used to.”
Helping to run one of the tables at the event was the Brazos county coordinator for Brazos County WorldFest, Kim Fox. Brazos County WorldFest often partners with the Confucius Institute to help share international culture. Fox spent the day teaching attendees how to use chopsticks.
“Our mission is to promote and celebrate international diversity [in] the Brazos Valley,” Fox said. “One of the biggest events in Chinese culture is the Lunar New Year, so being able to share that with the community here is what we try to do.”
Roughly 600-800 community members visited the event throughout the day. Some attended to identify with their culture; others attended the event to learn more about a culture half a world away.
“In Chinese, when they write your name they don’t spell it out. They sound it out,” Johnson said. “But [the calligraphers] find a character that sounds like your name and when [people] figure that out they are shocked.”
The Confucius Institute, A&M’s partnership with the Hanban and Ocean University of China, expands A&M’s Chinese language teaching capacity and inspires students to learn more about the Chinese culture. Furthering the community’s knowledge of Chinese language, culture and society here in Texas.
“The Chinese culture here is very strong, very connected, so this is a way for them to continue to connect with each other and the rest of the community,” Fox said. “This is a way for them to put what the have learned in the classroom to practical experience and be able to meet some of the Chinese members of the community as well.”
Designed to educate students about a more global future, the Confucius Institute was established on April 28, 2008. The institute is responsible for strengthening Chinese connections and awareness among Texas A&M students and faculty.
“This is my first time at this event,” said Suraj Iswaran, ambassador for the Brazos County WorldFest. “The people here are very warm and informative. I didn’t know this was the year of the dog. I also learned to use the chopsticks.”
The institute also focuses on language education and community outreach.
“I don’t know of any other event that introduces a culture like we do,” Johnson said. “So people are not just learning about their zodiac animal and putting on a tattoo, but they’re also getting to watch a traditional Chinese instrument. We take it to another level and I’ve really enjoyed watching it grow.”

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