College Station, Texas, USA, February 7 – Over 2,000 students, faculty, and staff at Texas A&M University as well as members of the Bryan and College Station communities gathered to welcome the year of the snake at the 7th Annual Lunar New Year Celebration on February 6, 2013. This year’s celebration was organized by the Confucius Institute at Texas A&M University, University Dining Services and Global Program Support. The event was also supported by generous donations from Wells Fargo Bank, who has sponsored the event for several years and Panda Express, a first year sponsor. Chef Au, an executive chef for Panda Inn and guest chef for the event, was proud to lend his twenty plus years of experience to serve authentic Chinese food in Aggieland.
In his weekly email, Texas A&M President R. Bowen Loftin urged the campus community to attend the annual event which was held at the newly renovated Sbisa Dining Hall. Indoor events, which commenced at 6:00 p.m., were facilitated by over 50 volunteers from the Chinese Students and Scholars Association, Asian Presidents Council, and former Confucius Institute students and staff.
Cultural activities this year included: temporary zodiac tattoos, paper cutting, origami, and Chinese calligraphy. Excited guests lined up at each table to learn about and participate in a traditional craft, learn more about Chinese culture and receive a memento to take home. Traditional Asian music played throughout the evening and guests were treated to live performances of the pipa, erhu and bamboo flute.
At 7:30 p.m., the outdoor activities began with opening remarks delivered by Dr. José Luis Bermúdez, Dean of the College of Liberal Arts. Dr. Bermúdez emphasized the importance of the Lunar Celebration and opportunity it provides Texas A&M to celebrate its diverse population while simultaneously engaging the university community in developing a more pluralistic, diverse and globally aware populace.
Following his remarks, the Houston Shaolin Kung Fu Academy entertained the audience with a kung fu demonstration, drum show and traditional lion dance which left the audience reeling with amazement at the troupe’s agility and strength.
The cultural events that the Confucius Institute present each year have a tremendous impact on the surrounding community, and provide people that may not have the opportunity or means to travel abroad, the ability to experience a new culture in their own community. As one Texas A&M staff member, Shannon Prescott, described the experience for her and her family: “I believe that these are memories my nieces and nephews will always have, and I hope that it will help them remain open to new experiences, people, and cultures.”