On Feb. 16, from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m., the Office of Student Leadership and Civic Engagement (SLCE) will partner with Weekend Programming to host an event to celebrate the Chinese New Year.
The event is part of the recently introduced Diversity in Action series and will take place in the UC Pit, ending at Gold Circle Lake with a Chinese lantern lighting release.
Garrett Horejsi, graduate assistant for Student Leadership and Civic Engagement, said that the events were created to help foster inclusion, learning and awareness among NSU’s community.
“I don’t think many people know much about Chinese New Year — myself included until we started this process,” said Horejsi. “I think that if you’re not a part of the culture, you don’t know much about it which is most of the reason that we decided to do this. The point of this program is to expose people to cultures, ideas and discussions that they maybe have not thought about before.”
He underscores this need by explaining that the original intent was to collaborate with a student organization. However, upon further investigation, the staff learned that there were no clubs or organizations which specifically catered to this population causing SLCE and Weekend Programming to consult with various local resources to create the event.
Horejsi said that students can expect to learn through the various activities including Chinese calligraphy and painting, as well as the lantern festival, which will be a part of the celebration. He stated that the goal was to introduce students to some of the customs and traditions of Chinese culture through brief explanations and discussions which will take place during the activities rather than having students sit through a lecture.
“Lectures are not the most exciting thing to do and we don’t think students are going to leave thinking ‘Wow, I’ve immersed myself in this experience and I know everything there is to know about Chinese New Year’,” said Horejsi. “But we’re hoping to at least introduce students to some of the aspects of Chinese New Year so that [students] can go home and hopefully leave with some additional knowledge than what they came in with, and maybe even want to talk to someone else about it to kind of just start the conversation.”
He said that the inspiration for events like this and the creation of the Diversity in Action Series was prompted by his supervisor after beginning his first year of graduate assistantship. He was tasked with inventing programming which would fill an underserved need on NSU’s campus. After transferring from an institution he described as predominately white and “very Lutheran and Scandinavian,” he discovered that NSU’s diversity was not a large part of the conversation at the university.
“There are all kinds of diversities that should be talked about and which aren’t even being talked about on campus, and if it is then it isn’t really being approached from an administrative standpoint,” said Horejsi. “You’re [students] are probably not going to be sitting in your corporate job talking extensively about Chinese New Year but this all leads to an understanding of how to communicate with people who are different from you and developing that lifelong learner attitude.”
Horejsi said that the event has been organized in a way that will meet each student at his or her individual level of comfort by allowing them to engage in as much or as little discussion and activity as they choose.
“It’s very much an opportunity for you to be exposed to something new in a low-risk setting,” said Horejsi. “It’s very much a passive experience. So, if you want to learn a lot, stay engaged with the conversation and learn all about it. If you don’t know about it and don’t want to be overwhelmed, come paint a lantern and we’ll talk to you about why it’s important; eat a mooncake and then be on your way — very simple.”
The Diversity in Action series will continue next month on March 22 at 5:30 p.m. with a women’s leadership event in celebration of Women’s History Month. On April 9, there will also be a LGBTQ+ event from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. Both events will take place at NSU’s Flight Deck Pub. For more information on any of these events, contact Garrett Horejsi at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 954-262-7293.