One of the most anticipated annual events at The New Century School is celebrating the Lunar New Year. This year rang in Year of the Rabbit, TNCS’s second rabbit year, with the last happening in 2011, when TNCS was very much still in its infancy.
For the second year running, TNCS held a Chinese bazaar to honor the occasion. (See Li Laoshi’s Chinese Night Market from last year here.) So, on January 24th and 25th, the auditorium in building north was transformed into an indoor market of craft and clothing stalls, food vendors, and performances. This, says Yujie Peng (“Peng Laoshi”), allows students to collaborate with their peers and to communicate about real-life subjects in Mandarin Chinese.
The bazaar, she explained, presents an opportunity to explore different Chinese cultures. Students were so excited leading up to the event, she said, and it turned out even better than she had hoped. So much better, in fact, that she thinks she will need to double the goods offered next year (Year of the Dragon)! The bazaar was not only a sell-out, but it also came close to tripling the funds raised last year, with more proceeds still to come. Parents, said Peng Laoshi, had lots of positive feedback to share. Not surprising, as you’ll see!
As the photos (courtesy of Peng Laoshi) show, 4th- through 8th-grade students set up stations focusing on a topic that interested them, such as Kung Fu, Chinese food, pandas, traditional traditional crafts, and traditional clothing. Qipao, for example, is the traditional Chinese dress and is commonly worn to celebrate the New Year. Students created trifold poster presentations and presented their topics in a mix of English (so attending parents could understand) and Mandarin Chinese, as part of the lesson in learning new vocabulary related to culture. New this year, Peng Laoshi asked her students to use the three parts of their posterboards trilingually, each in a different color to represent the three languages TNCS students learn: Chinese characters and pinyin in green, English in blue, and Spanish in orange. Younger students (K through 3rd-grade) made posters to decorate the walls of the auditorium.
Another special bonus is that each class did a classroom presentation in Mandarin that was recorded and shown on a loop during that class’s time at the bazaar. Courtesy of TNCS’s Mandarin Chinese teachers, these are sprinkled throughout the remainder of the post.
At the bazaar, students needed to demonstrate their proficiency in buying and selling in Mandarin as well as advertising their stations. Goods were bought and sold with tickets that attendees could buy prior to entering. “This not only allowed them to practice their language skills, but also practice life-ready skills,” said Peng Laoshi. “They need to know how to cooperate with their peers, because each station had two, three, or four students. They also need to know how to organize their station with the different items.” Prior to the event, more learning took place as students developed online research skills and then how to coherently present their research on Chinese culture according to parameters set by Peng Laoshi.
But it wasn’t all work for these industrious bazaar managers! Each student got a package that included a red Year of the Rabbit tee-shirt in one of two styles depending on division to wear on bazaar days. At the bazaar, they each got a red cup containing two dumplings and a spring roll—they could buy more if still hungry! (This proved to be very much the case, and next year Peng Laoshi plans to have extra air fryers on hand!)
The tee-shirts were a runaway hit and have made several subsequent appearances at school, including during this past spirit week’s Twin Day.
Peng Laoshi said she didn’t have a favorite presentation—they were all great—but she did express how impressed she was with some of the beginners, who learned very quickly and brought their A game to the bazaar. “Overall,” she said, “I see that students can really learn a lot from this kind of activity.”
And now, we look forward to the Lantern (Shangyuan) Festival, which happens on the 15th day of the lunar calendar and coincides with the full moon. That is Sunday, February 5th this year. Peng Laoshi says, “I hope more people around the world can know about the Lunar New Year and the Lantern Festival. It’s like a new beginning—everything’s new, and we have new hope and a whole new start.”
When asked what the celebration means to her personally, Peng Lasohi said:
The Chinese new year is one of the most important holidays in Chinese culture. It means reunion of family and celebration of the beginning of a new year. I am so happy to celebrate it with TNCS families, which is like a big family reunion and celebration. The rabbit symbolizes peace, longevity, and prosperity in Chinese culture. The year of the rabbit is predicted to be a year of hope. May the year of the rabbit bring every TNCS family good health, happiness, and abundance.
Wishing you lots of luck this rabbit year! Tù nián dà jí! 兔年大吉