Chinese Moon Festival brings authentic Chinese food to campus

UNA students received an opportunity for intercultural experience in the form of the annual lunar harvest holiday, the Chinese Moon Festival, held in the GUC Atrium Oct. 4. Students were exposed to various rituals and authentic Chinese foods such as sushi, tempura and moon cakes.

Students were welcomed by the hosts in both Chinese and English and were given hope for a free-spirited night. Soon after, a cultural dance was performed, followed by numerous welcomes and skits. The audience became directly involved with the events when a game involving a tossed ribbon made its way through the crowd. As music played, students were to throw the red ribbon up in the air. When the music stopped, whoever was holding the ribbon was to go on stage and try a mystery food.

Freshman computer science major Tyler Yasaka participated in this unique tasting, feeling fairly confident based on his upbringing in a Japanese household. He began to eat his mystery food, describing it only as “crunchy” and “good.” The host then announced to the crowd that Yasaka had just eaten the delicacy of chicken feet. Next, Yasaka indulged in a pepper that the host referred to as “the hottest pepper in China — you are now a real man.”

Despite Yasaka’s burning mouth for the next 20 minutes of the evening, he said he truly enjoyed the event and plans to go again next year.

“I think it’s important to have intercultural experience,” Yasaka said. “It’s important for us to learn to interact with people who may not share the same background as us and to learn to appreciate the differences among cultures.”

Numerous students on campus currently participate in the Language Partner Program offered by the Office of International Affairs to help international students become better acclimated to stark cultural changes, with emphasis on a comfortable setting for learning English. Yao Zhang, a freshman at UNA, said the intercultural events offered on campus help better the community.

“Part of the reason I came to America was to experience a different culture,” Zhang said. “I have always been very interested in Western culture and films, and such American traditions as Christmas and the idea of Santa Claus are very different from what we experience in China. It’s a very special thing to be able to experience another culture.”

With the close of the festival, students were brought together through photos, a dance party, karaoke, three consecutive playings of “Gangnam Style” and the hopes all would come again next year for not simply food and fun but for the opportunity to explore and navigate through a collectively cultural encounter.