Rollins Honors Lunar New Year with Messages of Celebration and Inclusion

February 03, 2023

By Office of Marketing

The College rings in the Lunar New Year with a day of events centered on cultural celebration, equality, and inclusion.

To celebrate the Lunar New Year in 2023, the Year of Rabbit, Rollins’ Asian studies program recently hosted a series of daylong events on January 26, starting with a dragon dance parade around campus and concluding with a panel discussion addressing the recent rise in Asian hate.

Dragon Dance

According to the spring festival tradition observed by many East Asians, especially Chinese, the dragon dance is an age-old celebration that is said to drive away evil spirits and usher in good luck and blessings for the community.

After the students and the dragon danced their way from Olin Library to Kathleen W. Rollins Hall and from Mills Lawn to Bush Science Center, they settled in for an academic presentation on the Chinese characters and Asian traditional culture by Youn-Ok Kang, professor of Chinese language and director of the East Asia Institute at the Myongji University of South Korea. Wenxian Zhang, professor and head of archives and special collections at Olin Library, chaired the program while history professor Yusheng Yao provided English interpretation. The session concluded with a classical musical performance by award-winning Chinese zither player, Ann Yao, who is based in Central Florida.

Breaking the Silence: A Conversation with Titi Yu

In the evening, members of Rollins community joined Titi Yu, an Emmy-award-winning documentary filmmaker, in the Truist Auditorium for a panel discussion about the recent rise in hate toward Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities, which has increased drastically since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. The discussion focused on Yu’s most recent PBS documentary, Rising Against Asian Hate: One Day in March, which features the aftermath of the March 2021 mass shootings at three spas in Atlanta. The film documents how the Asian American community came together to fight back against hate while exploring the struggles and triumphs of AAPI communities.

Rollins panelists included English professor Martha Cheng, Assistant Director of International Programs Mary Choi Robinson, and Asian studies students Lia Harvilla ’25 and Eve Wasil ’24, with education professor Jie Yu serving as moderator. All panelists eagerly shared their insights on the recent waves of racial discriminations against AAPI, dismissed stereotypes such as the perpetual foreigners and model minority, and discussed what actions can be taken to stop Asian hate.

As a part of the Social Impact Hub’s Changemaker Day, this Lunar New Year cultural program was funded by the Eurasia Foundation.

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