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World Languages and Cultures

Faculty and Students Join Montclair Art Museum Lunar New Year Celebration

Posted in: Chinese, Japanese, Korean, World Languages and Cultures

Asian Languages faculty and students promote cultural diversity at the Lunar New Year
Asian Languages faculty and students promote cultural diversity at the Lunar New Year Celebration: (first row from L to R) Annie Chen, Wing Shan Ho, Jean Horton, (second row from L to R) Yun Kim, Jo Ann Perez, Inna Urrego, Heeyong Chae, Youssef Wassef, Katherine Martinez, Minami Gonzalez.

On Saturday, January 28th, 2023, a group of Asian Languages students led by Dr. Wing Shan Ho and Profs. Yun Kim and Xi Chen promoted cultural diversity and engaged the community at the Lunar New Year Celebration at Montclair Art Museum. Student volunteers Minami Gonzalez, Jean Horton, Katherine Martinez, Jo Ann Perez, Inna Urrego, Youssef Wassef, and dual-degree student from Korea Heeyong Chae joined their professors in running indoor workshops for families and children attending the celebration, including a calligraphy workshop, craft stations, and a skill game involving picking up M&M’s with chopsticks.

“It was an amazing experience to volunteer for this second annual Lunar New Year celebration, and it was a great opportunity for me to give back to the local community and promote Asian cultural heritage by sharing fun cultural activities with community members!” says Minami Gonzalez, Anthropology major and Asian Languages minor.

“Events such as the Lunar New Year Celebration, which took place at the Montclair Art Museum, are important in bridging the cultural gap in our communities. Through exposure to engaging events like those hosted and organized by the AAPI Montclair, understanding cultural differences can become a welcomed learning experience instead of something foreign. The event was colorful and vibrant, with an outpouring of support from Montclair’s diverse community. I chose the focus of the Japanese New Year’s wreath craft to be something tangible that participants could take home. I felt that having something they created and could then introduce into their homes could be a way for them to embrace culture. It is possible that through this new item, an outside party might become interested and ask about the wreath. In a way, that conversation can be like the passing on of cultural knowledge. I look forward to more events in the future. Happy Year of the Rabbit!” continues Katherine Martinez, Asian Languages and Cultures major with a Concentration in Japanese.

Over 2,500 community members celebrated and learned about the Lunar New Year and enjoyed cultural performances including a traditional Chinese lion dance, Korean samul-nori drummers and Taekwondo demonstrations, and a Vietnamese fan dance. In addition to these performances, several food truck concessions were available to serve Asian-inspired dishes and refreshments at the venue. The celebration was organized by AAPI Montclair in partnership with the Montclair Art Museum.

Story by Anthropology major and Asian Languages minor, Minami Gonzalez, and Asian Cultures and Languages Major with Concentration in Japanese, Katherine Martinez