A group of students visited Chicago to learn and celebrate the Lunar New Year, a traditional holiday celebrated by Asian Americans and millions of people worldwide.

The group started their trip at Truman College where their host, the Chinese Mutual Aid Association, prepared live cultural performances and authentic Asian food for them. They then watched the Argyle Lunar New Year Parade and visited Chicago’s Chinatown.

Chicago’s Chinatown is a historic neighborhood filled with traditional specialty shops, ornate architecture and family-owned restaurants that transport its visitors to eastern Asia. “My favorite part of the trip was exploring Chinatown, the architecture was beautiful and there was Lunar New Year decor throughout the entire area,” said Anna Jordan-Vazquez, computer engineering student.

The trip was led and organized by Leo Schauer, assistant director in the Office of Multicultural Affairs, who shared that 78% of the group had never been to Chicago’s Chinatown before and 89% do not celebrate the Lunar New Year at home as a tradition.

“This event really helped many students explore Chicago and learn about Lunar New Year traditions,” said Schauer. “This festival holds cultural significance for me and many other Asian/Asian Americans, and I wanted to share that experience with MSOE students, fostering cultural understanding and appreciation.”

Although the majority of students do not celebrate the Lunar New Year as a tradition, they appreciated the welcoming nature of their hosts to teach them about the culture and celebration.

“I learned how supportive and eager the community is to teach and share their culture,” said Gabrielle Scott, biomedical engineering student. Jordan-Vazquez agreed, “I was surprised at how inviting the Lunar New Year celebration was. Everyone was quite welcoming.”

Zehan Ran, user experience student, joined the trip to see how people celebrated the Lunar New Year in the United States. “I am very grateful to Multicultural Affairs for organizing this trip for the students,” said Ran. “It allowed everyone to learn more about Chinese culture. I was glad to see the enthusiasm shown by everyone for this trip and their interest in the Lunar New Year.”