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viewpoint

Why we should celebrate Chinese New Year

| Thursday, February 16, 2017

On Jan. 28, 2017, China celebrated Spring Festival, the annual Chinese New Year and the most widely celebrated holiday in China. As a freshman, this is my first year living away from home during this national holiday, and like many others on campus, being away from home during this festive season will be the case for many years to come.

As I spoke to my parents and friends, I could not help but reminisce about the days as a child when I was blessed to spend this holiday at home. I could not help but remember the color red lingering in every corner of the city as everyone prepared to celebrate; beautiful red lanterns, decorative paper-cuttings and traditional antithetical couplets — traditional poetic idioms that expresses good fortune — adorning every household. I also remembered the smell of mother’s dumplings, and the warm feeling of family as we cuddled together waiting for the countdown to the New Year. Three … two … one … and the sound of the city lighting up in fireworks.

I was very happy when I saw that the Chinese Culture Society decided to organize special events to celebrate this joyous occasion, but I was also sad to see that the school itself had paid little attention to this holiday. My calculus professor, who is from China, expressed briefly that, “hopefully someday, the school will give us a holiday because it is the most important day in China.” This seemingly perfunctory comment made me realize how little attention the school pays to cultural events outside the United States. Some of my friends who had gone to universities such as UC Berkeley and NYU had all seen red colored decorations put around the school, and even temporary changes in dining hall menus.

Notre Dame’s student body is over 8 percent international students — not to mention a large part of this percentage is students from China — and with this number growing each year, our school is becoming more and more international and outward facing. I encourage the school to realize this and harness this opportunity not only to diversify its students on campus, but also to diversify its culture, to learn about the different traditions and backgrounds of people it houses behind its academic doors and to strive to make our home under the dome a place for everyone.

Wendi Gradoville

freshman

Feb. 14

The views expressed in this Letter to the Editor are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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  • warmupthediesel

    YOU decided to go to school in the United States….not China.

    • disqus_PBnOP0sXke

      Do you celebrate Christian holidays? If so, you’re a hypocrite. Christianity was brought to North America by undocummented immigrants centuries ago. If you want to celebrate Christian holidays, you should go to Europe (or more precisely, you should go to Middle East because Christianity originated there).

      • warmupthediesel

        How am I a hypocrite? How many Chinese universities celebrate the 4th of July? Did I attend school in China and right letters to the student paper complaining about the lack of 4th of July celebrations?

        • warmupthediesel

          Done responding to you, PBnOP0sXke….go find somebody to troll at your own level.

        • disqus_PBnOP0sXke

          You want to impose European and Middle Eastern celebrations on American universities, such as Christmas and Easter.

          • warmupthediesel

            Are you incapable of seeing the differences between faith-based holidays that blatantly transcend international borders vs national holidays? I sincerely hope you aren’t an actual student of Notre Dame…

  • John Duffy

    Dear Wendi Gradoville,

    Thank you for this thoughtful and well written letter. As a professor at Notre Dame, I agree with you. The more we are “outward facing,” as you so nicely phrase it, the better we will see. Notre Dame is incomparably richer for having Chinese and other international students here. The university should do all it can to celebrate them and make them feel welcome.

    John Duffy
    English and University Writing Program