Video by Sara Konkel
Story by Ryan Hodges
Meridian Times staff writers
MERIDIAN TWP.—To Haoyun Liang, an MSU sophomore psychology student, spending Chinese New Year away from his friends and family in Shanghai has been a difficult adjustment.
“The event’s most important part is family,” Liang said. “(Although) our parents and most of our friends are in China, we made more friends here and we treat each other as family and stay together.”
The treacherous snowy conditions on Feb. 1 did not stop hundreds of people from packing into the Meridian Mall – for the second year in a row – to celebrate Chinese New Year. The four-and-a-half hour event, put on by the Greater Lansing Chinese Association, 20 additional Chinese organizations across the area and multiple sponsors, included a lion parade introduction, live entertainment, crafts and games.
Performances included singers, dancers and musicians. Meanwhile, multiple craft and information booths were set up for the event as well.
Ashleigh Smith, an MSU international relations senior from Algonac, Mich., sang the traditional Chinese New Year songs “Xin Nian Hao” (Happy New Year) and “Gong Xi, Gong Xi” (congratulations) during the event, said that she enjoyed the make-your-own calligraphy art because she got to experience a true form of traditional Chinese culture.
“My favorite part was writing Chinese characters using rice paper and a special (calligraphy) brush,” said Smith. “It was unique because it’s an ancient art form, that really makes you pay attention to order and detail, … (and) it makes really good wall décor.”
As a township sponsored event, Julie Brixie, the Meridian Township treasurer who started off the festivities, said that it was important that they get this event right because of the rapidly growing Asian population that is moving into the area.
“One of the reasons why we tried really hard to kick off this event was because of the expanding population of international students at MSU,” Brixie said. “(So) we wanted to find a way to welcome them and explain to them that this is Meridian Township … and welcome to our community.”
Trying to bridge the gap between new international Chinese students and Chinese residents already living in the area, Henry Kwok, from the public relations team for the Greater Lansing Chinese Association, said that this event brought different cultures of Chinese people from around the area together.
“We are still working on connecting (the two Chinese cultures,)” Kwok said. “(But) there are just so many differences.”
Smith said that she would like to see the area become more connected to the various cultures of the people that are living around them.
“I honestly feel that if we all branched out of our comfort zones and attended more events like this that are offered in the Michigan State and Lansing community,” Smith said, “we would really learn to love all parts of the world and not just our little hub in it.”