Thursday, February 25, 2010

Chinese New Year Celebration

The Chinese New Year celebration this past weekend was very entertaining. There were displays of traditional Chinese dance, music and art among many other forms of artistic and creative expression. While the various forms of entertainment were very unique and engaging, I found the racial makeup of the audience and participants particularly interesting. Although this was specifically a Chinese festival, there were black and white audience members, as well as others from the many different countries in Asia. Similarly, the music, dance, and tai chi groups were made up of members from various ethnic backgrounds. This was not only visually interesting but it also highlighted the power of racial and cultural diversity. While everyone was different, racially, they were able to come together in celebration of a common festival. Everyone contributed, and there was essentially unity in diversity.

Coming to this festival, as a non-Asian, I felt that the event made the Chinese culture more familiar and accessible for people of other races and ethnicities. Often, unfamiliar cultures are seen as foreign and, in many ways, frightening and strange, but this event made it easier to understand aspects of Chinese culture, because unusual traditions or customs were introduced in more familiar ways. For example, they presented very ornate and theatrical costumes, traditional Chinese styles that seemed unusual to the average non-Asian viewer. The fact that these outfits were presented in a fashion show, made it more comprehensible to the audience members. In addition, the Chinese language is a very mysterious and intriguing aspect of the Chinese culture and by having a table where the audience could have their names written in Chinese was a very clever way of introducing the Chinese language in a more familiar, less intimidating way. Overall, the event was well attended and very well executed and I thought the festival was successful at giving the audience a sample of Chinese culture and tradition.

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