Algonquin College celebrates the Lunar New Year of the dragon

Cultural cuisine was one of the main attractions at event in Student Commons
Photo: Fortina Chen, Yanrong Wang, and Leah Grimes. Photo credit
Woxuan Ma, wearing a short white cheongsam, had her picture taken with three staff members from the International Education Centre of Algonquin College (from left to right)

With the Lunar New Year of the dragon underway, Algonquin College hosted a grand celebration in the Student Commons on Feb. 12. The campus buzzed with life as students immersed themselves in a rich experience of culinary delights, traditional attire and cultural exchange.

The Lunar New Year holds great significance in many East Asian countries, particularly in China, where it represents a time for family reunions and the embodiment of traditional culture. During this period, people engage in traditional rituals and activities, such as visiting relatives and friends, writing couplets, watching lion dances and savouring festive meals with family.

Jieyu Chen, a Chinese student in the early childhood education program, has been away from home for quite some time. She eagerly anticipated the celebration. Being in a foreign land, she highly values traditional cultural events like those on campus.

“Like the Diwali celebration the school had not long ago, I think it’s really nice to be able to share your own culture and cuisine with people from different countries,” Chen said. “I’m also really looking forward to today’s lion dance performance because that lively drumbeat really gets you excited, just like back home.”

Noémie Rossignol, a student in culinary management, believes that this Lunar New Year event has created a great cultural exchange experience for people from different places.

“Because I come from Quebec, I had only heard about lion dances before but never seen it before, so I’m really looking forward to today’s performance,” Rossignol said.

During the celebration event, a showcase of traditional attire captivated the attention of many students. A girl, dressed in a white short cheongsam and adorned with earrings featuring Chinese elements, stood on the stage, confidently displaying the beauty of Chinese traditional clothing and sharing the cultural significance behind it.

Woxuan Ma, a former electrical engineering technician student at Algonquin College, joined the Lunar New Year celebration with the intention of fostering friendly cultural exchange and communication.

“I’ve always had a habit of wearing traditional clothing, so during this event, I hope to show our Chinese attire to people from different countries,” Ma said. “I‘m here to meet new people today and look forward to more opportunities in the future to showcase our traditional clothing.”

The food lineup stole the spotlight at the Lunar New Year celebration. Approximately 10 minutes before the festivities commenced, student groups from various cultures gathered in the shared student space, eagerly anticipating a taste of delicious New Year dishes. With offerings like pulled pork sandwiches, spring rolls, dumplings, rice cakes, and bubble tea, the students’ enthusiasm and curiosity for diverse cultural cuisine turned the food area into the liveliest spot at the event.

Jieyu Chen (left) and Xueting Wang (right) are early childhood education students who arrived early at the student commons to wait for the Lunar New Year's event to begin.
Jieyu Chen (left) and Xueting Wang (right) are early childhood education students who arrived early at the Student Commons to wait for the Lunar New Year event to begin. Photo credit: Yuye Jiang

“We’ve got a diverse team here, and we’re always trying to do different things and make diverse dishes because there’s a mix of students who come in and enjoy the food, so we really try to represent that diversity well,” Nathan Buschmann said.

Buschmann serves as the culinary operations manager at Algonquin College, marking their third year of collaboration with the Students’ Association in providing food. This Lunar New Year, the delicious offerings were crafted with assistance from students in the culinary and baking programs at the college.

“For this New Year event, it took us about three days to whip up around 2,000 pieces of food. While it did take some time to experiment and practice these new cuisines, it was a fun experience exploring different flavours,” Buschmann said. “We’re a cool team and will continue to check through for various cultural events in the future.”

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