PVCC welcomes the Year of the Rooster with cultural events

Kaylynn Wohl, Editor-in-Chief, Puma Press

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Every year, the Chinese New Year lands on a different day; it is a 12- year animal cycle. This year is the Year of the Rooster. According to chinahighlights.com, this holiday was originally set to align with the upcoming farming season when the population in China was primarily agricultural. Traditionally, they celebrated the year’s successful harvest and prayed for another fruitful year. As China is now 55 percent urban, this holiday has shifted toward a celebration of a successful upcoming business year.

In the Gregorian calendar, which is today’s internationally accepted civil calendar, the Lunar New Year begins during the new moon, which usually falls between Jan. 21 and Feb. 20. This year’s new moon landed on Jan. 28.

Paradise Valley Community College’s librarian and Chinese originate, Lili Kang, coordinated efforts within the Asian community and with librarian, Paula Crossman, to present the Lunar New Year in sound, word and sight.

“By specifically framing the events as a cultural exchange and anchoring the celebration to curriculum, the learning became relevant, and the events elevated to impact student learning with a diverse lens,” Kang said on the Daily Growl.

According to Governor Doug Ducey in an Arizona State Proclamation, the Lunar New Year is a multi-day holiday for many Asian cultures; it is “an auspicious beginning or renewal whether in one’s personal life or in business, community or government affairs.” Furthermore, this holiday is welcomed with firecrackers, “colorful serpentine-like dragons and lion dancers moving to the thunderous sounds of drums, gongs and cymbals and bring prosperity, happiness and good health.” Families gather, exchange gifts, prepare special meals and give respect to elders and ancestors. Ducey also stated “Arizonans of many Asian heritages, immigrants and descendants alike, enrich our state by bringing their rich cultures and continuing their traditions of observing and celebrating the Lunar New Year.”

The first event PVCC hosted to welcome the new year took place on Wednesday, Feb. 8 from 9 a.m. to 10:15 a.m. in the southeast corner of the Buxton Library. Titled “Measuring Time by the Moon and the Sun,” Astronomy instructor Jenny Weitz shared, from an astronomical perspective, how to measure years from lunar cycles: “There is no absolute ‘best’ method for counting time as all systems have pluses and minuses.” Additionally, Kang displayed how the “Lunar calendar shapes Chinese lives, such as when choosing the date of a child’s conception/gender, wedding and/or funeral date arrangements.”

The second event, “East Meets West: Intercultural Communication and Business Etiquette,” fell on Feb. 9 from 10:30 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. in KSC1000. Multiple classes gathered to engage in a lively discussion about cultural norms, customs and intercultural dos and don’ts. Additionally, the panel discussed how culture influences our worldview and how understanding cultural differences will benefit careers in a business atmosphere.

Aaron Bruhn, a Fine Arts Major here at PVCC, attended the event with his Owning and Operating a Small Business (MGT 253) class. He learned about cultural relativism where the concept is “like the phrase ‘when in Rome, do as the Romans.’ It’s incredibly helpful to consider other culture’s norms when visiting other places,” he stated. For instance, “in the United States, honking your horn is seen as a negative act often done with anger when someone is being ignorant. In Vietnam, it’s positive, like saying ‘Hello. I am here.’”

Bruhn reflected this event with a smile and said, “I feel like I grew in awareness. It was encouraging to see people who had been to other cultures, who are well traveled and well informed.”

The third and final event, “Artistic Expression and Social Justice,” fell on Jan. 16 in the southeast corner in the Buxton Library at 12 p.m. David Bradley, the ceramics instructor on campus, began the panel with an in-depth presentation involving his trip to China in 2015. He spent five weeks studying graduate students and their intricate artwork under the Communist regime. The contemporary artists used precise detail and realism to express themselves and how they feel under their government’s strict control.

Bradley then pridefully informed the group of his meeting the famous conceptual artist and activist Ai Weiwei. He is known for his seminal artwork “Sunflower Seeds.” According to the website aiweiweiseeds.com, Weiwei initially conceived his project for Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall, located in London. His take “on the large hall was simple and complex, poetic and disturbing at the same time: He filled the Turbine Hall with a thick layer of sunflower seeds handcrafted in porcelain, a total of 100 million seeds, with a total weight of 300 thousand pounds.” He began two years in advance for this location due to its 30 step intricate procedure. Since 2009, Weiwei’s Sunflower Seeds exhibited in 12 galleries across 11 cities and nine countries.

Bradley explained that each of these seeds represented the “Chinese people being seen as not very valuable.” When people walked in the hall and stepped on all of the seeds, it symbolized the way the Chinese feel about their oppressing government. “Art is so much more than pretty things to hang on the wall; they’re voices,” he concluded.

PVCC concluded the celebration with a guest speaker born and raised in China. She shared her experience of the last 11 years in the United States and discussed some of her cultural expansion projects, such as the “City Walker.” In this video, she followed the path of the homeless and compared the city life in China versus the city life in Phoenix as a homeless person.

All events had tasty cultural snacks to bring cultural awareness to all the senses. Chinese rice cakes and other candies were some of the students’ favorite.

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