Oberlin Blogs

And by Chinese New Year, I mean three weeks in a row

February 21, 2010

Zoe McLaughlin ’11

One of the things I miss most when I'm at Oberlin is hanging out with kids. It sounds trivial, but after a few weeks, you start to realize that they're one demographic that you don't ever encounter. Some of my friends cure this problem by volunteering in the local school district. I solved this problem by attending the East Asian Studies Department's Chinese New Year celebration.

Chinese New Year was actually last weekend. I went to Cleveland with some people from CSA because we had to buy some things for our New Year banquet, which is next weekend. Of course, we also had to stop for dim sum and peruse one of the Chinese grocery stores. Basically this all means that I'm going to get to celebrate Chinese New Year three weeks in a row, which is really the way to do it.

But back to the EAS celebration. I showed up a bit late. And by a bit late, I mean basically on time, but there was already a line for food. One of my friends, who had neglected to pick me up on the way there, had already procured food and was looking for a seat. She also had a nine-year-old kid hanging out with her. I knew he was the son of one of the professors, but that was all. Nevertheless, I attempted to guilt him into waiting in line with me even though he already had food. He turned me down but did advise that I cut into the line.

Much later, I finally got to the front of the line, loaded up on dumplings, and went to find him again. We basically spent the rest of the time together, discussing the finer points of spicy broccoli, comparing our lack of Chinese skills, and egging one another on to participate in the major activities of the evening. And by major activities of the evening, I mean sitting around in a circle and passing a balloon from person to person while my first year Chinese teacher (of the past) banged on a glass bottle. Then when she stopped banging, whoever was left holding the balloon had to perform something. Thankfully, I never had the chance to be that lucky person. (I did have a rhyme prepared. Not in Mandarin, but that's a small detail.)

All in all, it was a good time. I got to eat good food, pretend to speak Chinese, and hang out with kids. And that was the start (and probably highlight) of my Saturday night.


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