Celebrating Lunar New Year with NPUST’s Overseas Chinese

School is out and the Lunar New Year is approaching. Usually, for Overseas Chinese at NPUST, that would mean it’s time to get on a plane and get home for the holidays. This year, however, the story is a little different. Travel is not on the table and the OC Students will be spending winter break in Taiwan. But the festival must go on!

On January 27th, the Office of International Affairs (OIA) organized a warm and festive gathering for its Overseas Chinese students, with traditional food and music—and decorations setting an atmosphere of holiday cheer. The university has over 200 Overseas Chinese students from 10 different countries currently enrolled in its programs and when the event was announced, within no time at all, 120 had already signed up.

Joining the celebrations, NPUST President Chang-Hsien Tai took the stage to share a word of encouragement with the students, saying that “‘at festivals, everyone thinks all the more of his loved ones’— and the most important festival of the year for Chinese people is the Lunar New Year. This year, because the pandemic, families have faced many inconveniences. But NPUST is like a family, and we hope to share that warmth with everyone over the festival. This year, as you celebrate the festival with teachers and friends, we trust that it will be a very memorable occasion and we wish everyone a happy New Year.

Being away from the home over the holidays can be hard for students, which is why, as Vice-dean of the OIA, Herlin Chien shared “the OIA took special care to give all the students a sense of warmth for the New Year Festival. Hoping that through the activities, “students can share the experience with one another and forget about their homesickness during the holidays.”

The venue was decorated according to theme, with a special “Overseas Chinese” banner hanging on the backdrop of the stage. And to really set the Lunar New Year atmosphere, a Chinese Dragon Dance performance was organized to kick off the event.

When the first courses of food came in, Tan Wai Teng, an OC student from Malaysia from the Department of Aquaculture took the stage. Known for her incredible singing voice, she led the students in a number of familiar holiday songs and even got some of them on the mic to sing a few lines. Next came the singing contest, with Chow Zhi En, Kong How Yee, and Chen Ching Teng each taking the stage to battle for the title—and each with their own pockets of fans spread throughout the venue shouting out in support.

Enjoying one dinner course after the next, the excitement continued to grow as more students took the stage for the next activity—a highly entertaining game that required participant to quickly recognize the true meaning of Chinese words that were designed to confuse. The contestants had to think quickly on their feet and with a “three-strikes you’re out” rule, the suspense was always building.

As the students were enjoying themselves, staff from the OIA were quietly scouring the crowd to decide who would be named “Mr. Red” and “Ms. Red”— titles which go, each year, to the students whose attire does the best job of saying, “I’m here to celebrate the Lunar New Year”. And this year, those students were, Mr. Edmund Er Wei Sheng of the Department of Aquaculture and Ms. Ding Xue Ni of the Department of Hotel and Restaurant Management.

As the activities winded down, President Tai visited each table and handed out red envelopes to the students, wishing them a “happy new year”. For new students to NPUST, they were surprised and excited to personally receive a red-envelope from the president of the university, and they expressed their gratitude one by one. The exciting time together and great food gave students an opportunity to feel the warmth of New Year a little ahead of schedule while giving them a real sense of family togetherness, despite being away from home for the holiday.