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The newspaper of The Johns Hopkins University January 17, 2006 | Vol. 35 No. 17
Ushering in the Year of the Dog

From left: Jun Wang, doctoral student in chemistry, co-organizer; Shan Qiao, doctoral student in international health, co-host; Wei Xiao, doctoral student in economics, co-organizer and president of JHU-CSSA; Xiaofeng Jia, postdoctoral fellow in medicine and vice president of JHU-CSSA, performer; and Weina Hou, senior in applied mathematics, co-host.

Chinese New Year event at Homewood expected to draw more than 1,000

By Greg Rienzi
The Gazette

The longest and most significant Chinese holiday will be celebrated in grand style on the Homewood campus this year, as students and scholars representing 12 Baltimore/Washington area universities will pack Shriver Hall this Saturday to usher in the Year of the Dog.

The inaugural Chinese New Year celebration at Johns Hopkins, which will begin at 6:30 p.m., will feature a mixture of Chinese and Western culture, including performances by both students and professional troupes. The evening will consist of a performance program, which is set to end at 10:30 p.m., followed by a viewing of the Chinese fantasy/drama Wu Ji (The Promise), also in Shriver Hall. Concurrently, a dance party will be held from 10:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. in the Glass Pavilion, and karaoke, poker and chess games will be offered in Levering.

Organizers expect more than 1,000 people to attend the Jan. 21 celebration, including Shaozhong You, the minister counselor for education affairs at the Chinese Embassy in Washington, who will give a New Year address. For the event, Shriver Hall will be decorated with Chinese paper lanterns and symbols.

The New Year period, also known as the Spring Festival, begins on the first day of the Chinese calendar — Jan. 29 this year — and ends 15 days later with the Lantern Festival.

The Chinese Student and Scholar Association at Johns Hopkins is co-sponsor of the event, along with the CSSA chapters at other participating schools and the Chinese Embassy in the United States. The main sponsors and confirmed schools that will attend are American, George Mason, George Washington, Georgetown, Towson and Virginia Tech universities; the universities of Virginia, Delaware and Maryland at College Park, Baltimore and Baltimore County; and the National Institutes of Health.

Jun Wang, the event co-organizer and a third-year doctoral student in chemistry, said that while Chinese students at Johns Hopkins have celebrated the holiday on campus in the past, this year the CSSA wanted to host a larger-scale affair that would attract Chinese students and their families from around Baltimore and Washington.

"New Year's time is the most important holiday for Chinese people, so we wanted this to be a major event and invite other schools to participate," Wang said. "New Year's is a time for family to gather and for people to relax and celebrate."

Johns Hopkins currently has roughly 1,400 Chinese nationals working and studying at the Homewood, East Baltimore and Peabody campuses.

Wang said that the celebration, which is free and open to everyone, also offers an opportunity to introduce aspects of Chinese culture to others. It will feature traditional Chinese folk songs and dance acts by colorfully dressed performers, including a dragon dance and martial arts show.

Among the Western acts are a piano performance and American Indian dancing.

The film Wu Ji, released in 2005, is the story of a young woman, favored by the goddess of fortune, who becomes the most beautiful royal concubine in the world. Spoiled by the king, she lives a life of extreme luxury, but fate has cursed her never to enjoy true love until "time flows backwards and the dead come back to life." A slave, determined to lift the curse, uses his extraordinary physical abilities to break the shackles fate has put on his love.

Wei Xiao, event co-organizer and president of the Johns Hopkins CSSA, said that he hopes the night proves to be a rousing celebration.

"For many of us who are away from our homeland, this will bring us a bit closer to home," he said.


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