Lunar New Year welcomed

Several members of the international education community took time from their new year’s celebrations to speak with The PIE News about their hopes for what the new year will bring the sector, after a tumultuous two years living through a pandemic.

“Many unlucky things happened in the Year of Ox, and the pandemic has not disappeared,” said David Kang, director for HoHe Education Group in Shenzhen, China. “But finally, the new year is here.”

He shared his hope that, like the tiger itself, the new year would be “full of vitality and bravery”.

Similar to traditions that occur on the January 1 each year, many who observe Lunar New Year set positive intentions for the year.

Skyla Zhang is an international graduate student studying education at Columbia University. Over the past 12 years, she has been in the US working every Lunar New Year. Now back in China, Zhang is studying remotely and enjoying the week off during the nationally recognised holiday.

“Although I was not able to be back to my hometown of Beijing to celebrate with my family due to the Covid control and prevention policy, I’ve been enjoying the seven-day long holiday in Guangdong province.”

Boston-based Haohao Guo, director for JNC Study Abroad and specialist in Sino-American university exchanges, also referenced the impact the pandemic has had on family celebrations and educational programming.

“This is the third Lunar New Year that Chinese people around the world are asked to not to come home”

“This is the third Lunar New Year that Chinese people around the world are asked to not to come home for their most important annual family reunion,” he lamented.

Guo spoke of polarised views that often exacerbate “the profound cultural and systemic differences between the west and the east”. However, he believes international education is an effective platform for “bringing the world closer together by enhancing mutual understanding and strengthening cultural bonds”.

Events around the globe range from the University of Exeter in the UK encouraging staff and students to wear something red to celebrate, and cultural events such as the one at the Australian National University featuring instrumental performances, calligraphy, origami and traditional food, or the upcoming Chinese International Students Association Spring Festival at Northeastern University in the US.

In the Year of the Tiger, Guo’s wish is that the world will “finally come together to establish a synchronised plan to move freely again”, adding, “May studying abroad be one of the first moves”!

The tiger is often seen as a symbol of bravery, wisdom, and strength – characteristics frequently associated with international students. Zhang spoke excitedly about her upcoming graduation from Columbia and said she hopes to return to the US for her ceremony this May.

“May the Year of the Tiger inspire me to be my boldest, bravest self!” she added.

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