Organization prepares to usher in ‘year of the rabbit’

Daniel Cernero | Lariat Photographer
Students bring in the year of the tiger in February 2010 on the second floor of the Bill Daniel Student Center.

By Ariadne Aberin
Staff Writer

It’s that time of year again. Chinese New Year, that is, and it is coming to Baylor this February.

Chinese New Year is put on every year by the Asian Students Association in collaboration with Baylor Activities Council. The Baylor Activities Council assists with production and event planning, posters, Chapel slides, and Chamber banners.

“Asian Students Association holds Chinese New Year as the more traditional event that the organization puts on,” Katy senior Eddie Seto, president of Asian Students Association, said. “It really takes us back to our roots with traditions. This year marks our sixth annual Chinese New Year.”

This year is the year of the rabbit, which corresponds with the Chinese animal zodiac, which has 12 animals, one per year. The cycle goes around each year with each animal. Unlike the Western calendars, which indicate a linear concept of time, the Chinese calendar follows a 12-year cyclical concept of time, which is what the Chinese animal zodiac signs represent.

The main attractions for Chinese New Year at Baylor are the live performances, which are usually cultural performances such as lion and dragon dances.

“I’ve been with Chinese New Year since I was a freshman,” Houston senior Guia Pangindian, president of Filipino Students Association, said. “I remember one student performance that took place out in Burleson Quad. It was a man and woman duo. The music was loud and echoing in the quad and it was really pretty, and I was really amazed that a student organization could put on an event like that.”

Connie Tang, Deer Park senior and external vice president of Asian Students Association, said the main attraction for this year’s Chinese New Year is a lion and dragon dance team from Houston called Phap Luan.

“The special thing about this year is that even though the group is doing the traditional lion and dragon dance, audience members can get real exposure to what they actually do and really interact with the lion and dragon dance team,” Seto said.

Tang added that Phap Luan will have a booth for people to take photos with the groups and free demos to teach people some of their dance choreography. Pangindian said the dance group would also have a drumming session it would open up to the audience, where the audience would be able to beat the drums.

Chinese New Year features other cultural organizations that set up open booths where people can participate in traditional cultural activities.

“For me, Chinese New Year is a chance for the other organizations to get full representation in an event that’s pretty much open to the whole campus,” Pangindian said. “For FSA, I’d like to say that our involvement was a really big stepping stone for us because before we were just a bunch of people who hung out together, but Chinese New Year really meant a chance for us to show up as an organization.”

This year’s Chinese New Year will feature seven booths for activities from various Baylor organizations.

“Usually [Japanese Students Association] has a booth for origami, and [Indian Subcontinent Students Association] likes to do arts and crafts,” said Pangindian. “[Filipino Students Association] usually does a game called Tsoo Tsoo.”

Tsoo Tsoo is a traditional Filipino game where a person lays down sticks and races against another person. The goal is to try and skip over each stick to beat the other person. “We took our ideas from our childhood experiences,” Tang said. “Chinese New Year is like a festival, so we have open booths with games, some with traditional history and facts, and you can get tickets which you turn in to the prize booths, and you can redeem them for prizes.”

The prizes include traditional Asian snacks, and the event will provide free food catered by Pei Wei Asian Diner.

Although Chinese New Year is a Baylor event, it is open to anyone who wishes to come.

“Interestingly enough, last year we invited Sul Ross Elementary School to come and experience our Chinese New Year, and I think the kids had a really fun time with it.” Seto said. “We incorporated them into one of the traditional skits, and I just think it brings more awareness and it shows them that even though they’re young, they still can enjoy the tradition, and even young adults can enjoy the tradition and we all have things to learn about tradition.”

Seto, Tang and Pangindian all agree that cultural diversity is becoming more and more apparent in Baylor and in Waco.

“I think cultural diversity has grown amazingly,” Pangindian said. “I used to hear people say, ‘Chinese New Year? I didn’t know that was happening,’ and now I hear people say, ‘I can’t wait for Chinese New Year.’”

Although a large part of the event, Chinese New Year at Baylor is much more than just games, live performances and free food.

“What people get to see when they come is Baylor at its finest and their students really showing off what they can handle on top of their academics,” Pangindian said. “More people come out, and they walk away learning something.”

Chinese New Year will take place from from 6 to 9 p.m. Feb. 3, in the Barfield Drawing Room of the Bill Daniel Student Center.