Michigan Tech News

Chinese Students Share Ancient, Modern Culture at Chinese Night

Phone: 906-487-2354

By Monica Lester


Last Modified 10:23 AM, February 5, 2014

The Chinese Students and Scholars Association presented "The Lotus Lantern," a Chinese folk tale with modernized English subtitles.

January 20, 2014—

The Upper Peninsula is quite an isolated and isolating location; however, stepping onto Michigan Technological University’s campus can open the world to students as well as community members.

Last Saturday night that is just what happened as a record crowd shared the Chinese Students and Scholars Association’s (CSSA) celebration of the Chinese New Year at a dinner and entertainment called Chinese Night.

The Chinese New Year, also known as the Spring Festival, is the biggest and most significant event of the year in the Chinese community. The Year of the Horse begins  Jan.31, and the celebrations continue until the 15th of the first month in the Chinese calendar.

The CSSA shared the joys of the Chinese New Year and their culture at an authentic Chinese dinner in the Memorial Union Building Commons. The tables were set with white linens. From the ceilings hung ornate, red paper lanterns.  The dinner included peppered pork ribs, sauced duck, vegetables, rice noodles, steamed dumplings, tea-flavored boiled eggs and several kinds of tea.

After dinner, the celebration moved to the Rozsa Center for a show that included modern and traditional dances, music and a play.  The dances were intertwined with the singing and play. The singers sang songs in both English and Chinese, and a local band called The Board is Playing performed between the different acts.

The play performed by the CSSA was a modified version of the Lotus Lantern, a traditional Chinese folk tale.  The hosts introduced the acts in English and Chinese, immersing the audience in the flavor of their celebration.

A combination of modern and traditional acts presented a new perspective on Chinese culture. Karn Saipong, a Michigan Tech student and member of the International Club, said, “ The performances were very interesting. They (the CSSA) included a combination of modern Chinese pop culture but also more traditional dances and routines. They did a good job of showing their culture in a way that is somewhat more accessible to students from other cultures. They added jokes and modified the tale to make it funny and entertaining.  I learned the role of “humor” they have in their culture, which is a great twist in my impression (of it).”

At the end of the night, numerous community members were heard commenting on the amazing performance and the ornateness of the traditional and modern costumes.  

“Chinese Night was a great experience.,” said Mary Haworth, a Michigan Tech student from Lower Michigan.  “The dinner had a large variety of authentic dishes, and the performance showed the real story but also had humor and a modern twist. I feel more connected because the Chinese students were so welcoming and willing to share their culture with us.”

Chinese Night and events like it provide an opportunity to get involved with the various cultures on campus. “One of the goals of Michigan Tech is to build a diverse, inclusive and collegial environment,” says Tao Daniel, a member of the CSSA and director of Chinese Night. “The Chinese student group is one of the biggest international populations at Michigan Tech. It is such a great opportunity for all Michigan Tech students and community members to learn about a different culture. It can extend their understanding of others that may help them interact better with different people during their personal lives and careers in this rapidly globalized world.”

Michigan Technological University is a public research university, home to more than 7,000 students from 60 countries around the world. Founded in 1885, the University offers more than 120 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in science and technology, forestry, business and economics, health professions, humanities, mathematics, and social sciences. Our beautiful campus in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula overlooks the Keweenaw Waterway and is just a few miles from Lake Superior.