Valencia students gather, celebrate Chinese New Year

Neda Hamdan

The Chinese New Year traditionally starts in January, but Valencia College’s Valencia Intercultural Students Association (VISA) introduced the celebration on March 29.

“This year is the year of the Water Dragon,” said Kung Fu instructor and chief founder, Sifu Charles Rivera. The water dragon represents power, luck, intensity and vitality, he said.

Tables were set up all around the patio in front of the SSB Building, covered in red and black tablecloths, giving the chance for students to learn how to write their name in Chinese, eat free Chinese food and get their name crafted at the name-painting table.

Individual tables were dedicated to different areas of the Orient, such as Northeast and Southeast Asia, each displaying something about that region’s culture.

The Eastern Asia table was run by Elodie Herard and Carolie Herard. “At this table we write down your name in Chinese. There are gifts on the table that anyone is free to grab,” said Elodie. Stacks of cardboard paper scattered the table as the girls worked on calligraphy.

Along with the Chinese writing, tables full of different Oriental foods were provided to the public. Free fortune cookies laid on every table along with bamboo chop-sticks.

“I travel to different colleges to do the Asian name-painting art,” said Pippi, in charge of the name-painting table. Using various leather brushes and paint, Pippi makes different names into pictures. For more information, samples of her artwork, or to order a custom name, visit www.pippiart.com.

Sifu Charles Rivera, the chief instructor of the Hung Fut Pai Chinese Kung Fu Association, was present to help put out a good show for the students. “I have done this the past three years over at the East Campus,” said Rivera, who has been doing martial arts for over 30 years. “I founded this program and I love doing it every year.”

Another martial arts instructor, Alan “Tito” Trueba, was present to help guide and teach the students in Tae Kwon Do. Both Rivera and Trueba passed out business cards and answered any questions for those wanting to learn about the Chinese New Year or self defense.

The show consisted of students demonstrating Kung Fu, the Lion Dance and the Dragon Dance. “This is my first year participating on this campus,” said student Fallon Mosley. “I have been doing Kung Fu for five years’ and I like performing it and I like the reaction to the Lion Dance and how people confuse it with the Dragon Dance.”

Valencia students were able to join in on the Dragon Dance, and Sifu Charles Rivera asked if anyone wanted to help walk around under the Dragon Mask. Students were able to hold onto sticks and follow the performers around the patio.

“I liked the Dragon Dance and the Henna,” said student Khady Graydon. “I also really enjoyed the Asian writing. I volunteered to hold onto the Dragon Stick during the Dragon Dance. It was a lot of fun; we just ran around in circles.”