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Davis, California

Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Chinese student nonprofit seeks to spread cultural awareness through Lunar New Year celebration in Central Park

UC Davis’ Chinese Union hosts the “Dragon’s Market” for all


By LYNN CHEN — features@theaggie.org


Lunar New Year celebrations are just around the corner for many students at UC Davis. One particular student-run organization is committed to celebrating in a unique and memorable way.

The Chinese Union (CU) is a 501-(c)(3) non-profit organization split across many college campuses around the country, including UC Davis. It was founded at UC San Diego with the purpose of providing assistance and support to Chinese international students in the U.S. 

On campus, CU regularly hosts social events and extracurricular opportunities that integrate students’ academic, lifestyle and entertainment interests.

“It’s a great place to meet friends who have a similar background to [you],” said Yi Zhu, an executive member for the Project Management Department of CU and second-year psychology and theatre and dance double major, via WeChat text messaging. 

To observe the arrival of the Lunar New Year, the nonprofit will be hosting the “CU Dragon’s Market” in Central Park on Feb. 18 from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. A variety of booths showcasing traditional food, games and artwork, as well as music and dance performances of various Asian cultures for guests’ perusal and participation.

“We will showcase activities such as traditional Chinese paper cutting and embroidery during the event,” said Xiniy Tong, an executive board member of CU, second-year communications major and deputy chief planner and financial director for the event.

“Through our fair, we hope that [non-Chinese] people can learn more about our culture,” Tong said.

According to Tong, attendees can also expect Lion Dance (舞狮) performances, long rope skipping games (跳长绳), writing calligraphy blessings on red parchment paper (写福字) and the opportunity to dress in traditional Han-style clothing (汉服).

Additionally, many of the goods and materials provided or sold at the Dragon’s Market will be imported directly from China, in the hopes that it will create a more welcoming and homely environment for those who grew up there.

While these are all traditional Chinese activities and recreational pursuits, CU also hopes to be inclusive of other cultures that celebrate the Lunar New Year with its event.

“In the past few years, we’ve only hosted events for international students from China,” Justin Han, president of CU and third-year managerial economics student, said. “This year we wanted to change this fact through the market fair, because everybody should be able to enjoy our cultural event.”

Han stated that the fair will also be showcasing traditional Vietnamese performances.

First of all, hosting a fair to celebrate Lunar New Year was a relatively new idea for CU to bring to life. Other similar Chinese student associations to CU and the nonprofit itself had no experience organizing something at such a large scale under such a short amount of time. As such, the Union placed a substantial amount of effort into planning the event.

 “The Dragon’s Market has been a very creative and challenging project for us,” Tong said. “It’s something that has never been done before in Davis.”

The group had to flesh out detailed plans for the event and design its marketing campaign to appeal to the UC Davis community. At the same time, CU communicated tirelessly with Davis city officials to obtain food, health and venue permits for the fair. 

“This was definitely a very risky and adventurous decision to undertake. Normally, we would have a few months to a year to prepare for a big event like this, but we only had less than two months to design the whole thing,” Han said.

Thankfully, the city was quite supportive of the student organization’s endeavors, which eased the process according to Han. Furthermore, members of the Chinese Union team themselves were active in contributing to making the project work.

“I’m really grateful for everyone’s help so far,” Han said. “Even though the fair hasn’t started yet, it’s really hard not to see success in our future.”


Written by: Lynn Chen — features@theaggie.org


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