Shawnigan welcomed in the Year of the Rabbit on Sunday, January 22, with a dinner and performances marking Lunar New Year.
Students, largely from Ms. Sandy Sun’s Mandarin classes, organized the event in Marion Hall to share and encourage appreciation of their cultures by sharing performances of music, dancing and kung fu, including a traditional Chinese lion dance.
Celebrated in China and other parts of eastern and southern Asia, and by members of the Asian diaspora around the world, Lunar New Year marks the beginning of the lunar calendar. It is one of the most important holidays in Chinese culture.
Grade 12 student and Prefect Spencer T. spoke in Chapel on Saturday, reminiscing about growing up in Hong Kong and counting the days until Chinese New Year by carving notches in his bedroom walls.
“There were many motivations for my dedication to the holiday,” he recalled. “The fantastic food, the events, the week-long break, and above all, getting to receive those great red packets filled with money. If you had asked me, when I was still in Hong Kong, what I was looking forward to, I would have given you those answers. But now, looking back on it, I have realized what the holiday was truly about.”
Spencer proceeded to recount the last Lunar New Year he spent with his family, in 2019, the year he left for Shawnigan. He recalled his grandfather showing him a timeworn photo album documenting his life from the Second World War to the present. When the pages flipped to 2005, Spencer could recognize his own face in every photo, and that experience was forever etched into his memory.
“And in that moment, I knew that I would always miss and love my granddad, no matter how far away I was. That is what Lunar New Year means to me. It means family, and how we should cherish every moment we have with the people we love. Let Lunar New Year be a reminder for all of us to remember them, no matter how far away they are.
For Sunday’s show and dinner, students brought their own talents to the stage and learned about organizing and leading an event, with the help of Ms. Sun and the events staff. They also reflected afterward about what they did well, and what could be improved for next year.
For the first time, students from nearby Brentwood College School were invited to participate in Shawnigan’s Lunar New Year celebrations. Ms. Sun’s Mandarin students have been engaged in a Mandarin-language pen pal program with a class at Brentwood, and this gave the students from both schools a chance to meet and celebrate Chinese culture at the same time.
The Shawnigan kitchen prepared a meal with a decidedly Asian character, including roast chicken, honey garlic salmon, fried noodles, glazed vegetables, and dumplings and spring rolls brought in from a restaurant in Vancouver.
The Entrepreneurship 12 students at the Stag Café also got in on the Lunar New Year fun, making dumplings and tanghulu (a traditional Chinese treat made from candied fruit on bamboo skewers) that they sold on Saturday night.
We acknowledge with respect the Coast Salish Peoples on whose traditional lands and waterways we live, learn and play. We are grateful for the opportunity to share in this beautiful region, and we aspire to healthy and respectful relationships with those who have lived on and cared for these lands for millennia.
Shawnigan Lake School is an independent co-educational boarding school for ages 13 –18 on Canada’s beautiful West Coast. Our diverse, interdisciplinary and innovative programming helps shape the next generation of global leaders.