By Mimi Luzader
Feb. 16 passed normally for many College Park students, but the Friday date was China’s most important holiday. Red decorations adorn houses and fireworks flare during this 15-day celebration of the Lunar New Year as they ushered in the Year of the Dog.
In China, people spend the new year, which started on Feb.8 this year, typically with their family. Many travel long distances to go home, resulting in the world’s “largest human migration,” according to Forbes, with more than 350 million Chinese traveling home.
Many international students were unable to go home and spend this holiday with their families, however.
“I got very homesick this year because I’m very stressed, and I saw all my Chinese friends reunited with their families,” said Beixuan Jia, the mentor for the Chinese cluster in the Language House.
Although they could not spend the new year at home, students found other ways to celebrate it. Some spent it with friends and prepared a large meal; others attended traditional festivities on campus.
“I feel lonely. I don’t get pocket money, no food. But we do have friends,” said freshman Cynthia Zhou.
“At first I really missed my parents, but then I ate hot pot with my friends and felt a lot better,” said Shanshi Wang, a senior, referring to the traditional Chinese soup.
Lin Chen, a junior who has been in the U.S. for five years, said that when he attended boarding school, he celebrated the Chinese New Year with his host family.
“I miss the overall environment–just like how in the U.S., on Christmas Eve, everybody celebrates and you have all of the decorations, it kind of just has the environment. Here, you just can’t feel anything,” he said.
On-campus organizations such as the Chinese Student Association also hold events that many students attend, such astheir annual Lunar Banquet on Feb. 15, Lunar New Year’s Eve.
“Some of [the students] may be from far, far away, and probably going back home to see family is not that feasible, so we provide these warm performances … for the community to enjoy,” said external vice president John Soong.
Various on-campus groups such as Terpwushu and Tianyi Dance Team appear at this event every year. Choy Wun Lion Dance Troupe from Fairfax, Virginia, performed a traditional lion dance as well, in which two people perform tricks as one traditional lion.
Members of the Chinese Student Scholar’s Association will attend the 2018 Spring Festival Galain Georgetown University on Feb. 18, according to Xiuwei Li, a member of the association’s publicity department.
Despite events like these, many students still feel as though the spirit of Chinese New Year’s is lacking.
“Thanksgiving or Christmas [is] everywhere – the feeling is everywhere – but here [Chinese New Year’s] is only Chinatown, so I can’t really feel it here,” Yan said.