Many of us go through our two years in the MBA program without really knowing the Champaign-Urbana community. As a way to introduce the students to various restaurants and community-owned establishments, the MBA Association has a program called, “The Taste of Champaign” where they highlight foods from other cultures that can be found right in the Champaign-Urbana area. Last week, the MBA Association featured foods from the Rainbow Garden Chinese restaurant to celebrate the Chinese New Year. Plates were piled high with vegetable eggrolls, General Tso’s Chicken, Vegetable Lomein and more! The MBA Diversity Association, in preparation for the MBA Association’s Chinese New Year celebration, decided to interview a couple of their members regarding the Chinese New Year.
First-year MBA student, Meng-I Chou, told the MBA Diversity Association about her experience celebrating the Chinese New Year in the United States. She said the following:
It was gratifying to be able to celebrate the Lunar New Year in a country far away from home. The Chinese, Taiwanese and Thai students in the MBA program gathered to celebrate this festive occasion, where we sat around the hot pot and enjoyed one another’s company. According to the Chinese tradition, the Lunar New Year is the time where family and friends gather to catch up with each other, similar to Thanksgiving in the American culture. Prior to this special occasion, a thorough spring cleaning is done and the house is filled with decorations that bring luck and wealth, like red lanterns and auspicious Chinese couplets. It is also customary for families to stay up all night on the eve of the Lunar New Year. Through the days following the New Year, families and friends will take turns visiting and wishing one another the best for the year ahead.
While it was unarguably a great time enjoying the food and company, both during my own private celebration and during the Taste of Champaign, what was most important was to be able to feel the familiar warmth of the festive occasion on a cold winter day in a country thousands of miles away from home.
Meng-I’s account of the Lunar New Year is wonderful to hear—I’m glad we were able to make her feel welcome in her new home away from home. This weekend, we will all be gathering to celebrate the New Year, learn Chinese traditions and eat some wonderful food. I am very excited to be a part of this amazing school where we can celebrate other cultures as well as get an education.