Celebration brings in ‘Year of The Pig’


Shan LI

A dance team performs a Chinese traditional dress dance to celebrate the spring festival.

Alumni Hall was transformed into a sea of yellow, pink and red cloths, lit by lanterns and filled with modern and traditional Chinese music during the Feb. 10 Chinese Lunar New Year celebration on the Hammond campus.

The 3,800-year-old event originated when, according to legend, a beggar liberated a village from the thralls of a mythological monster, Nian, by attacking it with firecrackers. This year’s event celebrated the Year of the Pig.

Chenn Qian Zhou, professor of mechanical engineering, who founded the event in 2006, said the year of the pig represents wealth, happiness and good fortune, explaining that the Chinese zodiac calendar cycles every 12 years. Traditional and modern dance and musical performances filled the evening.

Traditional performances included the women’s Umbrella Dance and Fan Dance from the Han Dynasty, the reading of Tang Dynasty poetry and the playing of the Chinese zither, a string instrument with a 2,500 year history. Modern performances included guitar and violin playing and synchronized dancing to pop music.

PNW’s Chinese Student Association, children from the NWI Chinese School and students from PNW’s English Training in Engineering Organization performed and organized the event under the advisement of Zhou and Yang Shu Hui, associate professor of computer science.

“The students leave China to live and study far away from their families,” said Zhou. “This festival is a way to make them feel at home. I’m very proud of the students. They did a wonderful job.”

The event provided opportunities for Chinese students to celebrate together, but it also provided opportunities for students and community members to learn about Chinese history and culture.

Richard Rupp, chief of staff to PNW’s chancellor, said the event functions as a communicator of Chinese experiences and customs.

“This is an opportunity for people who have never been overseas to come and experience China here,” Rupp said.

Speaking on issues regarding US and China relations, Rupp said: “this festival reminds us that personal friendships can traverse world difficulties.”

The attendees consisted of PNW students and local community residents. For some, this festival was their first interaction with Chinese culture and customs.

Karly Weisel, junior psychology major, said she learned a lot, explaining that she was able to spend time with her friends, meet new people and try different foods.

Autumn Bright, senior biology major, said that her favorite performance was the Chinese zither.

“I love the traditional Chinese sounds of muting and plucking strings that it creates,” Bright said.

The performances concluded with a traditional song called “Tomorrow Will Be Better,” which wishes the best for the future.