‘Year of the Ox’ welcomed at outer East Portland celebration

One didn’t need to speak Vietnamese or Chinese to enjoy the Lunar New Year party at Midland Library. Take a look at this colorful event …

With a packet of “lucky money” in hand, Midland Library bilingual youth librarian Ann Tran welcomes everyone to the Lunar New Year celebration.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
“X?nnián kuàilè,” Chinese friends greeted one another – and Vietnamese folks said, “Chúc m?ng n?m m?i” – at the Lunar New Year party at Midland Library on January 27.

“Welcome to our festival,” was how Ann Tran, a bilingual youth librarian at Midland Library, greeted us. “The Vietnamese people call the celebration T?t Nguyên ?án.” We learned this is Sino-Vietnamese for “Feast of the First Morning” [of the New Year].

Ethan and Arianna Campero work with crafts, with the help of library assistant Ann Huynh.

Jessie Seah holds little Shaelyn, dressed in traditional garb, while enjoying the festivities.

It’s important to hold this event, Tran said, because it brings the community together. “At this library branch, we serve a very diverse community. One reason for this event is to attract Vietnamese and the Chinese patrons into the library. Another is to allow everyone to celebrate our diversity, and learn about other people’s cultures.”

Orchids and Bamboo Quartet play both Chinese and Vietnamese music at the event. The group is a favorite at the Classical Chinese Garden in downtown Portland.

David Dahl plays the danbau, a single string Vietnamese instrument.

A European gentleman we met, David Dahl, demonstrated his skill at playing a single-string Asian instrument – the Vietnamese danbau.

“It’s played by plucking the string, and moving a tensioning stick. I found a good teacher, and have been playing it since 2003,” Dahl said. “You can tune it to whatever key in which you want to play it. Right now it’s tuned to C. if I play it without stopping, it’s low C; if I stop it and pluck it, it sounds high C.”

Expressively reading a special “Story Time” picture book is Cherry Chan, a Chinese bilingual library assistant.

In addition to “Story Time”, kids played a matching game, made crafts, and participated in some of the performances. The feasting during the evening was upon American treats – chocolate chip, Snickerdoodle, and oatmeal cookies.

These young ladies from the group Auco enchanted the audience with their graceful movement.

These little Auco dancers were the hit of the celebration.

We wish all readers, “an khang th?nh v??ng” — security, good health, and prosperity in 2009!

© 2009 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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