Anyone who would have walked into the cafeteria at Sheridan’s Trafalgar campus on February 12 might have mistakenly thought that they’d been magically transported to a New Year’s Celebration in China.
Over 200 staff, students and alumni of Sheridan’s Chinese community came together for a reunion dinner and an experience reminiscent of what they would be missing at home. Organized by the Chinese Students and Scholars Association and supported by Sheridan’s International Centre, the event was an opportunity to keep important traditions alive, stave off feelings of homesickness, and strengthen people’s sense of community and camaraderie.
The New Year celebration marks the start of the spring season. With a robust history of several thousand years, the spring festival signifies a new year filled with good fortune, health and prosperity.
Sheridan’s Conference and Event Services team helped transform the hall into a mini China town, bringing in the spirit of New Year. Those in attendance were treated to an event that appealed to all of the senses.
Rows of long tables were draped in red – the auspicious colour of the festival – and lit by paper lanterns. Bright red paper dragons hung from the ceiling and big television monitors boomed with the recorded version of last year’s New Year Gala program transmitted by Chinese Central Television – consistent with a ritual observed in every Chinese household. Sheridan’s President Jeff Zabudsky impressed the crowd with his greeting in Mandarin.
“In China, the New Year is not just an occasion for celebration. It unifies the nation” – Jinru Cao
Guests also enjoyed tea and chicken dumplings, joyfully sang Xin Nian Kuai Le – Happy New Year in Mandarin, and tried their hands at puzzles and games to win prizes. A beautiful girl dressed in a white sheen dress sang a heart-touching Chinese melody. The crowd began to sing along, making the rendition even sweeter.
For Jinru Cao, a first year English as a Second Language (ESL) student, this was the first time that she was celebrating New Year’s away from home. “In China, the New Year is not just an occasion for celebration. It unifies the nation. We know that at 12 o’clock – every Chinese household is engaged in celebrations,” she said, in explaining the significance of the festival.
Another first year ESL student Xu Lirong, who prefers to be called Rena, noted “I am here for a taste of the food of my country after months away. I am excited about this function. It makes me miss home a little less.”.
The night was mystical, bringing all those in attendance back to their homes and families, if even for just an evening.
Pictured at top of page: Sheridan Chinese New Year celebration at the Trafalgar Campus
Written by: Vinaya Gopaal, Projects Coordinator in the International Office at Sheridan.