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This last weekend we hosted a Chinese New Year celebration. Chinese New Year is the most anticipated holiday in many Asian cultures. Because the United States does not use the lunar calendar, Chinese New Year is typically overlooked in western cultures, leaving certain internationals feeling lonely this time of year, knowing that their families are back home celebrating without them. A comparable example would be an American studying abroad in China over Christmas. Because the International Student Friendship recognizes this problem, we have been hosting an annual Chinese New Year celebration for these students, with an open invitation to anyone else who wishes to participate. This year’s celebration was our most successful event in terms of attendance since our group has been at UCLA. We had over 125 students in attendance, with estimates of upwards of 140 people in all.

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Chinese students helped plan and carry out the event to help make it as authentic as possible for a celebration of this nature within the United States. Internationals helped cook authentic Chinese food, as well as recommended games to be played during the event. We had a ping pong tournament due to the popularity of table tennis in Asian countries, Chinese and English Karaoke, Mahjong, as well as a few other activities including a competition of picking up marbles in water with chop sticks.

During the even I was able to connect well with an atheist Malaysian student, as well as connect deeper with a Christian from Belgium (though originally from Africa). Shockingly, this individual was under the impression that the majority of so called conservative Christians were racist. That of course is a ridiculous claim, but as far as he is concerned, it is truth. He said that I was the 2% that was not racist. This student is a Public Policies major and will only be in the United States until the end of this school year, and though Christian, has a skewed mindset on some serious issues. I have been gaining credibility and favor with this individual, and plan on giving him good the Christian discipleship that he’s never had, sending him home to influence the world for God and not vice versa.

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