This year there were several events organized at Quest to celebrate Chinese New Year. Chinese New Year was on Thursday February 19, but being busy with the end of block course work, a number of students organized events on the weekend to celebrate the lunar New Year.
On Saturday a number of the international Chinese students at Quest held a celebration lunch open to all students. They prepared many traditional Chinese dishes including pork and vegetable dumplings, spring rolls, stir-fried broccoli, mapo tofu, sweet and sour pork ribs, New Year cake, steamed pork, and rice balls. We watched the CCTV Chinese New Year TV Gala (very cool by the way; I wish Canada had a show as impressive as this), and in my opinion a perfect number of people came by to socialize.
On Sunday there was a sign up for a shuttle that ran down to Chinatown in Vancouver to watch the Chinese New Year Parade. Students were also able to have free time to wander around Chinatown, go shopping, eat, etc. before heading back to Quest.
As I am taking Chinese 2 class this month, I was also able to participate in several extra activities, my favorite of which was on Friday when my class went on a field trip to Aberdeen Mall in Richmond. The goal of our trip was to practice speaking Chinese with native speakers in the mall, so our tutor had a series of tasks for us that involved going up to strangers or vendors in the mall and asking them questions (written in English but that we had to ask in Chinese). The questions were asking for their first and last name, then where they are from, then adding how many people are in their family, and finally buying an item from a vendor—that we received extra points for if we had the price reduced. Before being able to enjoy a celebratory meal at a traditional Chinese restaurant, we had to each report back to our tutor with pictures we had asked for from the individuals as proof of our conversations. I was originally quite nervous for this field trip, because it’s of course super awkward to strike up a conversation with strangers and especially hard in a language you’re just learning. However, it ended up being a lot of fun, and although I spent a lot of time scouting out someone to approach in the mall, I now feel more comfortable trying to speak Chinese with people outside of my class.
On Sunday after going to the parade in Chinatown, our Chinese tutor also invited our class (all eight of us, five who were able to come) over to his house to teach us how to play Mahjong. I always thought Mahjong was a very complicated game, however it was actually fairly simple to learn, since it is quite similar to rummy. Even playing without the gambling usually involved in the game, it is very addictive and we ended up playing for several hours.
Overall, I had a lot of fun celebrating Chinese New Year this year, and it made me wish that our New Year had as many traditions and celebrations, apart from just partying. Perhaps what I am most happy about though is that after two months of Chinese classes, I now know how to write close to 800 Chinese words. And even though I could have done this two months ago with a little help from Google Translate, I did not need to this time! 新年快乐！！