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GRCC and GVSU Asian Student Unions join together to celebrate lunar new year

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Rebekka Williams | The Collegiate

By Chris Yang – Collegiate Staff

Grand Rapids Community College and Grand Valley State University held a joint collaboration event Feb. 4 to celebrate the new lunar year of 2016, the Year of the Monkey according to the Chinese lunar calendar.

The event was held at GVSU’s Kirkhof Center, and featured performances including cultural dances and story shows from Grand Valley and outside sources like University of Michigan and the surrounding Asian community itself.

Ranging from cultural dances to skits and martial art demonstrations, the festival and its accompanying acts were organized by the GVSU Asian Student Union (ASU).

“We just kind of split jobs because they always do the performances and they have the mass quantity of people, and we always have the games and the CC people,” Ashley Daniels, 22, President of External Affairs for the GRCC ASU said.

Aside from displaying many snapshots of a variety of Asian cultures around the world through performances, the festival also featured foods and activities to cultivate a better understanding and appreciation for Asian influences.

“Our mission is to teach others about Asian culture and to disperse stereotypes against us, and to also give a community to Asian students as well as other students who are interested in Asian culture,” Sylvanna Inthisane, 20, Vice president of GVSU ASU said.

However, more than just the lunar new year was being celebrated at the event. Inclusion of all other Asian cultures was a major point of the festival.

“The Asian new year festival, although it’s around the time of the lunar year for Chinese new years, it actually encompasses all Asian new years,” Inthisane said. “In countries like Laos and Cambodia and Thailand, their new year is around April, so this is kind of a big event just for all the Asian cultures in general.”

GVSU student Brooke Yang said she joined the ASU to feel more involved in her culture.

To Yang and many other members, the ASU is more than just a club for the surrounding student body.

“I think they serve as a cultural reference because many people believe in those (Asian) stereotypes,” Yang, 19, said. “I think we can break down those stereotypes and show the real truth and also to show that everyone is also very different but also very similar in people and personality.”