The BYU-Hawaii cafeteria staff celebrated Chinese New Year with authentic Chinese cuisines and decorations on Feb. 16 and said students should expect similar events in the future. Students said the event helped them gain understanding and appreciation of different cultures and the cafeteria.
Head Chef Spencer Tan said students from the China, Taiwan, Singapore and Malaysia student associations were involved in the preparation and helped contribute to the success of the event.
“Every year, we try to make the event different so that there is a variety. We also try to bring more fun and life to the environment with decorations in the place and lion dance,” said Tan.
Jia Yu Liu, president of the China student association and a sophomore studying accounting from China, said, “I think it went fantastic with the music, decorations, and especially the food.”
The menu included slow cooked tender spicy pork with taro bun and bubble tea. For some students, it was their first time trying authentic Chinese food. Stan Mesui, a freshman studying graphic design from Tonga, said, “I’ve never tried Chinese food, and I really liked it. Even though we might stay here for a long time, it’s important to share our cultures with other people.”
Eric Munton, a junior majoring in accounting from California, said the food was delicious. “It’s good to experience other cultures and their food. That’s my favorite thing about BYUH. It creates in us an understanding of other cultures. When we understand their cultures, we can understand them on a personal level.”
Angel Wong, a senior majoring in elementary education with a psychology minor from China, said she volunteered to present the traditional Chinese dance Jung Hong Wu. “It was originally danced by one of the wives of the emperor. I think this event makes me feel like I am home. I feel like I am acknowledged. This type of event is a great opportunity to learn about different cultures and for other people to learn about Chinese cultures.”
Herenui Bybee, a French teacher, said he enjoyed the event as a whole but especially the lion dance. “I like when Chef Tan gave the lettuce to the lion, and the lion took it and just shredded it and spitted it out,” he said.
Raylene Leslie, a senior studying TESOL from Canada, said, “I love the culture they bring into the lion dance thing and the [musical chair] game. I think BYU-Hawaii is such a diverse school, so it’s important that every student understands a little bit about their fellow students’ cultures. It’s a great opportunity to bring that into the common area. I wish they had these type of events more frequently.”
Tan said, “I think we are going to have a Thai night. And [in March] we will a Native American night. One of the best ways to learn about the other cultures is through food. BYUH is one of the most diversified universities in the nation, so we try to do as much ethnic food as possible.”