Students volunteer at Chinese New Year celebration

February 6, 2012 — by Nelson Wang, Nicholas Chow, and Grace Ma

A multitude of Chinese calligraphy scrolls and drawings line the walls of the Saratoga Community Center building as countless children and their parents walk to different stations, each with a Chinese activity relating to the Chinese New Year and the Year of the Dragon.

On Jan. 28, many students in Chinese classes volunteered to help with a Chinese New Year celebration at the Saratoga Community Center.

“It is our hope to extend the [Chinese New Year] celebration to our entire community and bring everyone closer together,” said current Los Gatos-Saratoga High School Board president Cynthia Chang, one of the organizers of this event.

More than 100 students from the various Chinese courses went and worked in hour long shifts. The student volunteers worked alongside more experienced volunteers and learned how to work various stations from them.

The celebration included various aspects of Chinese culture including crafts, games, food, music and presentations such as a dragon dance.

The volunteers helped teach people how to do various traditional Chinese crafts in order to teach others about Chinese culture. Junior Chris Luo taught visitors how to make paper lanterns. He gave out pieces of paper and showed people how to fold and cut them properly in order to create the paper lantern.

“I wanted to give back to the community. Additionally, it was a great way to celebrate Chinese New Year,” Luo said.

Other volunteers helped at traditional Chinese game stations.

“I saw a lot of non-Chinese people there, and they enjoyed watching the performances and [going around the booths] as well, so [the organizers] did show the community outside of the [Asian] community how we celebrate,” sophomore Florence Wang said.

The celebration also allowed people to connect more with Chinese culture.

“As immigrants to U.S., we have been celebrating all the American holidays such as Thanksgiving and Christmas, [so] the Lunar New Year celebration was a special time for us to honor our heritage and bring the tradition to our children, friends and community,” Chang said.

While the adults taught people about the Chinese culture, the students learned more about their heritage and gained a better understanding.

“I wanted to learn more about my culture and I learned to appreciate it a lot more,” freshman Jerry Yang said.

The event was largely helped out by the efforts of Chinese teachers Mariam Fan and Sara Tseng.

“[The organizers] asked the community to help, and we are part of the community so that’s why we volunteered the students,” Tseng said.

As an incentive, they awarded activity points to those who participated. The teachers also appointed numerous student leaders in charge of different activities. One of the student leaders of the celebration was senior Myron Zhang.

“I was the shift leader, so I basically made sure that everyone was checked in and they knew what to do,” Zhang said.

Overall, the event was a great success that everyone enjoyed.

“It was a lot of hard work and sleepless nights during the planning process, but as I was on the stage seeing all the smiling faces in the audience, we clearly brought joy and pleasure to the attendees and brought our community closer together,” Chang said.

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