Community college’s Chinese New Year fest packs SE Center

From the Lion Dance, to arts and crafts, to inexpensive Asian food ‚Äì to young Woodstock students who “stole the show” with their performances ‚Äì see what happened at this colorful celebration ‚Ķ

Hello, kitties! This kitty-cat dance, performed by Kindergarten students at Woodstock Elementary School, charmed the crowd.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Welcoming the “Year of the Pig”, celebrants packed Portland Community College (PCC) Southeast Center on February 19.

This pan-Asian celebration included greetings, arts and entertainment from Thailand, Japan, Korea, and Viet Nam, as well as China.

Making introductory remarks opening the Chinese New Year celebration is Wing-Kit Chung, Associate VP, Finance, Portland Community College.

Everyone, including Americans, is having a good time here today,” PCC’s associate vice president of Wing-Kit Chung, told us. “At PCC, we value the different cultures in Portland. Being aware of different cultures adds to the educational experience.”

Rosalin C. Wang demonstrates Chinese decorative knot tying.

Cultural education abounds
Some of the cultural activities included a class by Rosalin C. Wang, in which she taught kids and adults the art of Chinese decorative knot tying.

Wang, a published author, teaches a variety of art classes at libraries throughout the area.

Writing names in Chinese, Ping Khaw shows his skill as calligraphist. He’s written the Chinese version of “David” on the card he holds.

And, Ping Khaw demonstrated Chinese brush calligraphy. Many American names don’t directly translate into Mandarin.

When there isn’t a direct translation, he said, he chooses syllables in Chinese that mirror those in English. Many times, the Chinese version of a name is a pun, relating to the name to the individual.

Lion Dancers from the Minh Quang Group, based in Portland, kick off the event as they work their way through the crowd at PCC’s Southeast Center.

Lions charge crowd; no one is eaten
The celebration got underway with the greetings from civic and school officials – and the traditional Lion Dance.

The acrobatic young performers from the Minh Quang Group worked their way through the throng and back to the front. As part of their performance, audience members “feed ‘lucky money'” to the lions by tossing dollar bills on the floor. The lions lap up the cash.

The lions “roar” as they tower high about the crowd, ending the celebratory dance that kicks off the festival.

At the conclusion of the dance, the lion’s “head” dancer leaps on the shoulders of the “tail” dancer ‚Äì making the fanciful character stand nearly 15 feet tall.

Woodstock kids steal the show
Young performers from Woodstock Elementary School’s Mandarin Immersion Program entertained the large crowd of nearly 400 in the Grand Atrium of the PCC Southeast Center with a variety of dances and singing numbers.

Wearing colorful costumes, students – from kindergarteners on up – performed traditional dances, sang songs, and played percussion instruments.

Woodstock teacher Shen Yin was very busy, staging the young performers and organizing their props. She beamed with pride. “The students performed well today.”

We asked Yin why learning new languages benefits students who live in inner Southeast Portland.

“When children learn a new language,” Yin explained, “it helps them learn about new cultures; it helps create mutual understanding. Also, it makes them better able to learn things, in general. It helps their academics because it expands their thinking process,” she said.

Can’t eat with chopsticks? Not a problem! PCC’s Anna Villines demonstrates the art (and skill) of using chopsticks as dining utensils.

Festivities continue throughout day
In addition to a full schedule of entertainment and arts demonstrations, folks who attended the Chinese New Year celebration were treated to a low cost luncheon.

Jain Lo, Chinese fine artist demonstrates the ancient art of brush painting at the celebration.

Before we left, Wing-Kit Chung, said, “I’m very pleased. This is a very happy, successful event.”

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

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