Third annual Lunar New Year Festival spreads Asian culture to all


Keertana Gangireddy

The Chinese Folk Art Workshop poses in the middle of their dance, "Flying Snowflakes".

Kristen Su and Keertana Gangireddy

[See a photo gallery of the event here.]

On February 2 from 4:30 to 7:00 PM, the Asian Culture Club hosted their third annual Lunar New Year Festival to commemorate the Year of the Pig.

The event was a major effort pulled from students, parents, teachers, and sponsors alike. Primarily in charge of the event was the Westford Academy Asian Culture Club and the Lunar New Year Committee, who worked together to plan the events months prior and set up the decorations hours before. The tickets to attend the celebration were twenty dollars for most attendees, with a five dollar discount for WA students. 

In the words of junior Isabella Xu, in the past three years, the goal has always been to“[celebrate] Chinese culture and [help] expose people to it in a more regional environment.”

Haining Bao, the principal of the Chelmsford Chinese Language School (CCLS) and one of Westford Academy’s partners in setting up this event, stated his interest in reaching a wider number of people.

“To be honest, [the Chinese community is] sometimes too [closed off], so I want to open up to show not only the language but also to share the culture and background with all the [surrounding] communities,” Bao said.

The cafeteria, where the event took place, was garnished with red and yellow balloons and streamers, as well as red lanterns and dragons. The tables were decorated with cloth of the same color, with a plate of tangerines in the middle to represent wealth.

The event commenced with a buffet from the local Bamboo restaurant in Westford, serving traditional Chinese cuisine. During the dinner, there were balloon artists and face painters attracting children for a balloon-made bow and arrow, or a dragon drawn on the side of a face. Tables set up in the hallways featured everything from merchandise such as stuffed pigs to a photo booth displaying traditional Chinese clothing and the history of the Chinese dynasties.

There were raffles hosted as well, including a free raffle with the tickets of the attendees, as well as a paid raffle for coupons hosted by local business sponsors such as the Westford Gateway, Bamboo, the Precision Surgical Specialists of Lowell, and Reliable Results Realty.

At 6:30, performances started in the Performance Arts Center to entertain the audience with Asian culture, featuring students from various schools in Massachusetts and New Hampshire, and Asian institutions spanning the state, such as the CCLS, the Boston Yue Opera House (BYOH), and the Chinese Folk Art Workshop (CFAW Boston).

The performances were hosted by senior Ethan Thai, and kicked off with a duet of a piano, played by senior Joseph Shen, and ab erhu, a traditional Chinese instrument, played by volunteer Linda Yang. The performance was followed by a martial arts routine done by students of Achieve Taekwondo, a performance of the Yue Opera pieces by BYOH volunteers, as well as a traditional Chinese dance titled “Red Sorghum” performed by sophomore Georgia Shen. Other folk performances of CFAW Boston included the “Resounding Gongs and Drums,” a glow-in-the-dark dragon dance, handkerchief dancers performing “Flying Snowflakes,” Chinese sword and flag dance in “The Heroine,” as well as a lion dance to finish off the performances.

The event served not only to educate the greater community about Chinese culture, but also for the students to connect to Chinese culture.

“During the process, we want to give a chance for our kids to showcase [Chinese culture] because that’s the best learning process. Instead of copying [Chinese characters] ten times, this is a much better way to [learn],” Bao said.

Ultimately, Zhenyan Li, the Mandarin teacher who started this event, said that this event is about the students themselves.  

“I think every kid is special and unique in a different way, so I was hoping to give this opportunity [to] them to shine in their own way. This is done by all the [Mandarin] students, so I think this is a good opportunity for them to develop their leadership skills, and also to introduce the culture to our community. My hope is to bring the community together and have a good time celebrating the Chinese New Year. […] I hope we can continue doing this for the students,” Li said.

In the end, the biggest takeaway, in the words of program director Jin Wong, is to spread the holiday spirit.

“It’s the happiness and warm atmosphere for the New Year,” Wong said. “It’s the New Year, it’s a holiday celebration, and people get together to enjoy their time together.”