A new beginning: UVM’s Asian Student Union celebrates the Lunar New Year


Grace Wang

Annika Larthrop’s solo dance during the Lunar New Year celebration hosted by Asian Student Union Jan. 21.

Grace Wang, Culture Staff Writer

Springing into the year of the rabbit, UVM’s Asian Student Union hosted a Lunar New Year celebration on Saturday, Jan. 21. 

Hundreds of students and community members filled the Davis Center to commemorate the holiday. Lunar New Year celebrates the beginning of the lunar calendar, which is derived from the moon’s cycles. It is widely recognized across Asia, most notably in China, Vietnam, South Korea and other countries with large Chinese populations.

Students arrived “dressed to impress.” From traditional Chinese qipao dresses to tailored suits, the attendees closely adhered to the formal evening wear encouraged by the event’s flyers. 

Kaley Pham, one of ASU’s first-year officers, only experienced the holiday as a family event before this year. The night was usually filled with games, food and the traditional gifting of red envelopes filled with money to symbolize prosperity going into the new year. For Pham, the on-campus celebration was a welcome substitution for her first time away from home. 

“Even though I did miss my family, I really enjoyed having people perform and giving away raffles,” Pham said. “It was nice to have a pseudo-family with the Asian community at UVM.”

The night featured performances from culturally Asian groups, including many of UVM’s clubs. Drum instrumental performances from Taiko kicked the night off, followed by dances from Jazbaa, the Bollywood dance team. 

Additionally, independent performers like K-pop dance group Alkali and Vermont’s only Asian drag queen, Sasha Sriracha, made an appearance. The night was not complete without the inclusion of some impromptu singing and dance battles. 

“Because of the makeup of the school, a lot of people don’t really have the chance to even understand or witness some of these events,” Pham said. “And even if you don’t celebrate Lunar New Year, it’s still a night where students can come and respectfully learn [about] and enjoy different cultures.”

Senior Tiffany Mai, ASU president, wanted this year to be a more community-based celebration. By moving away from the previous years’ auditorium-style seating, she created an environment for good conversation and connections. 

Plates full of fried rice, one of the board members’ renowned chicken, egg rolls and chai cookies lined the red tablecloths dotting the Grand Maple Ballroom. Students mingled around the tables, shared fortunes in place of money in red envelopes and posed for photos against a set red floral background as they explored the event. 

“Even though it’s a predominately white institution, there’s still people of color here,” Mai said. “It’s events like these that really bring together people of color, and it’s nice to see that. I really enjoy the tight-knit community that we have here.”