While most of the world was camped out in front of a TV in anticipation to watch the big game this past Sunday afternoon, nearly one hundred others decided to flock to the Student Center to get some culture.
The American Chinese Student Association hosted the first Chinese Festival Gala. At just $15 per ticket, visitors got to experience Chinese culture first hand with a traditional Chinese meal, several performances and four rounds of raffle prizes.
Doors of the ballroom opened at 4 p.m. with guests trying their hand at Chinese games and educating themselves on Chinese culture by viewing the many cultural displays.
Around the several dozens of dining tables stood poster boards, displaying different topics of interest about China: the journey of Chinese Americans, Taoism, Religions of China and the legends of the dragon.
By 5:30 p.m. guests took a seat to indulge in a traditional Chinese meals. Two appetizers and a plate full of chicken, beef and broccoli were served, among others. While one guest of Chinese descent dug into her meal, she realized one staple was missing: “Where’s the rice?” she said to herself.
Moments later, guests were surprised to hear the beat of a drum and almost immediately they realized the lion dance was about to take place. Lead by Derrick Gee, the Chinese Lion Dance Troupe of Michigan performed this favorite among Chinese, in which performers mimic a lion’s movements in a lion costume.
Special guest Rebekah Warren came to the stage to speak about the importance of recognizing Chinese Americans in Michigan.
“We try to do our part in Lansing to bring awareness of Asian Pacific islanders in Michigan,” Warren said. “There are 208,000 Michiganders of Asian Pacific islanders descent in our state.”
Warren also announced May as Pacific Islander month in Michigan.
“We have such a great diversity here in Michigan,” she said. “So many people working in different fields, making sure everybody are aware at just how vibrant this community is.”
After the speakers, many talented groups from the EMU and the Ypsilanti-Ann arbor area came to the stage to perform. Among them were EMU’s Tai Chi Class, the Ann Arbor Chinese Center of Michigan Yo-Yo Troupe and singing performance from Songs of the Beyond Band.
Yen-Ling Von Meister, Mandarin instructor at EMU and advisor to Mei Hua Tong Xue Hui, made the closing remarks, but beforehand she gave a special gift to a dear friend.
“I have a very special individual I would like to recognize this evening,” Von Meister said. “The gentleman supported our promotion of China and Chinese across the campus whenever I asked and he also takes initiative.”
Bob Lahidji was presented with a certificate von Meister said was to recognize his effort and dedication to supporting the cultural awareness on and campus.
While some bolted out in order to watch the last of the Super Bowl game, others stayed and got their dance on.
Karla Groesbeck, a member of EMU’s Tai Chi Class, was one of the many winners of the raffle drawing.
“I won a gift certificate to three [local] restaurants,” Groesbeck said. “I absolutely enjoyed myself. It’s a wonderful occasion to be with so many wonderful people interested in Chinese culture and the energy and enthusiasm with all the participants were able to spare so we all can have a greater mind of what china has to offer.”
Recipient of a traditional male Chinese garment as his gift, Jamal Olugosch – a former EMU student – also enjoyed himself at the gala. “I liked the comedy routines through the night and the dances,” he said.
For information on more events happening during the rest of Chinese Week at EMU, visit http://acs-association.blogspot.com.