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Campus celebrates multi-culturalism

Students Purdue University Calumet perform duing recent Chinese New Year celebraticampus Hammond Ind. | Phoprovided~Sun-Times Media

Students at Purdue University Calumet perform duing the recent Chinese New Year celebration at the campus in Hammond, Ind. | Photo provided~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: April 20, 2013 6:04AM



Celebrating the Chinese New Year at Purdue University Calumet is usually an event of large proportions, and this year was no exception.

Customary games, music, dance and food dominated the recent Year of the Snake daylong festivities attended by more than 400 people.

“We come from Chicago each year for this party in Indiana,” said Mari Lee, who moved to Illinois from China five years ago. “It is fun to go to many places that show our culture.”

Cynthia Rhoades, of Griffith, proudly watched from the audience as her 2-year-old adopted Chinese daughter Lauren sang on stage with students from the Chinese School, which is a weekly school based at PUC.

“Purdue Calumet is a multi-cultural campus and this type of event helps to reflect that,” Rhoades said. “I believe it’s very important for children to always know about their roots.”

Entertainers on the daylong agenda — as young as age 2 — did just that, to the enjoyment of the crowd.

In addition to the youngsters from the Chinese School, PUC students performed music and dance selections dressed in traditional Chinese clothing.

“I know the school has a large contingency of Chinese students and this is just wonderful that they have a chance to show their background,” said audience member Harold Mayfield, of Merrillville. “My wife and I are transplants ourselves — we came from Poland years ago — so we know it’s a good feeling to experience the food and music from your homeland.”

The Chinese New Year is the first day on the lunar calendar and revered as one of the most significant holidays in Chinese culture.

Also called the Spring Festival, this party involves families and friends gathering together to share wishes and hopes for a brand new beginning.

“For the past 10 years, Purdue Calumet Chinese students, local Chinese society, as well as non-Chinese students and faculty, have been gathering together to put on brilliant shows and performances to enrich our campus activities,” said Xueqian An, program director for this year’s celebration. “By bringing the Chinese New Year to Purdue Calumet, not only do Chinese students have fun and feel less homesick, but also our non-Chinese friends are offered an opportunity to touch our culture and actually be a part of it. We are proud of our grand tradition.”

PUC biology professor Barbara Farnell adopted her son Kyle, 7, from China three years ago. She commented on the importance of his attendance in the Chinese School, as she proudly watched him perform on stage with the group. Like Rhodes, she wants to keep the traditions of her son’s birth land always a part of his life.

“We want to encourage Kyle to experience his culture while growing up,” she said “And this is not only for him — our family is learning as well.”

In addition to the Purdue Calumet Chinese Student Association, sponsors of this year’s Chinese New Year gala included the Multi-Cultural Campus Council, Student Activities, Purdue Calumet Student Government and the university’s International Programs Office.



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