By Vicky Liu ‘20
On the New Year’s Eve of January 24th, the annual Lunar New Year Assembly presented a visual feast to the audience at Friends’ Central School. With either fast-tempoed or peaceful music throughout, the celebration conveyed joy and gratitude. In return, the audience gave a high degree of respect, appreciation, and the most enthusiastic cheering, applauding, and screaming. As Sonya Wilkerson’ 22 recalled the performances, she exclaimed, “Dabin’s dancing was amazing!”
From the audiences’ first reactions, it was evident that they loved this assembly’s innovative forms of presenting information and its cultural significance. As a fan of this assembly for many years, Mrs. Plunkett, upper school math teacher, shared, “This is my favorite assembly of the year, and I’m not alone in that. Everyone looks forward to this assembly. This year was particularly fun because there was more pop culture in it. I really got to see the sides of my students that I hadn’t seen before.” Mariam Reyes-Toidze’ 22 also appreciated the k-pop dances and rap songs, and she pointed out her enjoyment in “learning what [the Lunar New Year] meant to other people and seeing all the pictures of their cities” from the shown videos.
One significance of the assembly is that each year it reveals something novel about the Lunar New Year traditions and Asian cultures. For this assembly, Mrs. Plunkett joined the performers and performed Tai chi, a type of internal Chinese martial art, on stage! She was thrilled by the shift from an audience to a performer: “Knowing that this assembly is always well-received made it much easier to perform. I was honored to be included. It made me feel ten-feet tall.”
In fact, as early as the rehearsal, the celebration was filled with emotion. As this assembly’s organizer, Ms. Katy Oh, coordinator of international student education and programs, described what she felt from the performers: “smiles on their faces, so much excitement, and great energy.” She loved seeing that they desire to participate and take pride in being a piece of the whole. She added, “What brought me the most joy was that care and that they wanted to be there for one another. It’s not about reaching perfection, not about showing off. [Students] wanted to do something together and share a part of themselves from their backgrounds.” She recalled that during the performances the same vibe of togetherness was sustained.
However, the assembly’s preparation encountered several challenges as the group tried to gather ideas and put individual talents together. Ms. Oh said, “One challenge is how to make everybody feel included, seen, and visible.” The mission is to cooperate with the international student group, ASA members, and Asian-Americans who identify with the celebration. There is a hope that though in different art forms, the assembly keeps a consistent theme of inclusiveness.
According to the lunar calendar, 2020 is the Year of the Mouse! Here are two wishes for you with mouse-related Chinese puns: I hope that 鼠你最棒 (you are the best), and that 好运鼠于你 (good luck belongs to you).