Lunar New Year strives toward bringing cultural awareness to campus

Phat Nguyen grew up in Vietnam and celebrated Lunar New Year until he moved to the United States at 15.

Now he’s celebrating it in the Nebraska Union.

“Celebrating it here is not the same as it is in Vietnam, but holding these events on campus and spreading cultural awareness is meaningful,” said Nguyen, now the vice president of the UNL Vietnamese Student Association.

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln hosted a Lunar New Year event Friday. The Office of Academic Success and Intercultural Services (OASIS) and a few other student organizations shared the holiday through some games, entertainment, and authentic food.

Lunar New Year is an Asian holiday in which the start of the year coordinates with the moon cycle. Each lunar year is associated with an animal. This year is the year of the dog, which is the 11th of the 12 zodiac animals in the Chinese calendar. According to Asian astrology, a person’s zodiac animal and birth year determine personality traits.

OASIS, The University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Asian Student Union, The Vietnamese Association, Lambda Phi Epsilon and Sigma Lambda Beta hosted the two-hour long Lunar New Year event in union ballroom.

In order to bring cultural awareness to students on campus in a fun way, these student organizations provided entertainment including a lion dance, a violin performance of “Hello Vietnam” and a dance from UNL’s pom squad.

“The significance of the lion dance is during Lunar New Year is it’s a tradition to bring in luck into a house or a business,” Nguyen said. “It’s also meant to take the devil or bad luck out of the house.”

Authentic food, such as dumplings, spring rolls, banh tet, sesame balls with red bean filling and hot tea was served.

“Banh tet was the main thing in having traditional Lunar New Year food. We didn’t know if people would like the traditional food,” Nguyen said. “Having popular Chinese dishes like dumplings or spring rolls will help more people enjoy it if they do not want to try a new food.”

Booths also displayed elements of Asian culture such as teaching Chinese calligraphy, opportunities to learn about Vietnamese culture, a booth showcasing an international fraternity on campus, Sigma Lambda Beta and Asian Fraternity Lambda Phi Epsilon.

“For this event, we wanted to bring cultural awareness to campus. The campus is predominately Caucasian, so us being one of the minorities on campus, we wanted to let everyone know what the event is all about,” Trent Nguyen, president and member of the planning committee for Lambda Phi Epsilon, said. “We ultimately wanted to host an event that anybody on campus or in the community could come and enjoy the event and also be educated about our culture.”


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