Archer community celebrates Lunar New Year


Photo credit: Grace Doyle

Students migrate through the courtyard to participate in activities and watch performances at this year’s Lunar New Year festival. Here, they practice their calligraphy skills on traditional red envelopes. “It’s a time for everyone to come together and celebrate a culture that may not be their own and learn new things,” sophomore Sophie Paul said. “[It’s] what Archer is all about.”

Archer’s annual Lunar New Year festival was the first in-person Lunar New Year celebration since 2020. Taking place Feb. 9, the planning for the celebration took multiple weeks and consisted of participation across grade levels and departments.

Chinese teacher Pei-Ying Gosselin worked with the Asian Pacific Islander Student Union as well as her Chinese classes to put the event together. Chinese teacher Susan Chen and Engineering & Design Coordinator Michael Carter also worked to bring this celebration to life.

“So the planning this year — since we haven’t done it physically for a couple of years — is different. But all my students are really excited about it,” Gosselin said. “They’re doing really well in terms of preparation … And this year we also have APSU students joining us to celebrate the Lunar New Year festivities. So it’s fun and there are a lot of activities.”

As students walked around the courtyard, they were greeted by multiple booths featuring different activities. The Chinese Foundations class helped teach calligraphy by writing on traditional red envelopes. Chinese 1A and 1B made desk lanterns in the Saban IDEAlab paired with candles to go inside. Chinese 2’s booth was designated for teaching traditional Chinese embroidery, and Chinese 3 made dough figurines in the shape of each year’s zodiac sign. Chinese Seminar students were responsible for New Year’s storytelling.

Kayla Bruce is a sophomore in the Chinese 3 class. As Bruce and her classmates began to plan for the celebration, they got to decide what activity they wanted to teach.

“We started off planning this during quarantine when we had that one week off of school after winter break,” Bruce said. “And, then, Dr. Gosselin asked us what activities we wanted to do. Because Chinese New Year is a time to celebrate and embrace Chinese culture, our class collectively decided to do dough figurines because they hold significance. At our station, we designed different dough figurines according to the Chinese zodiacs. I know that other classes have been doing embroidery or storytelling, but we decided to do something hands-on.”

Sophie Paul is also a sophomore in the Chinese 3 class. Unlike last year’s festival, Paul said she was excited for people to experience the event in-person.

“I definitely think it’s really special that people actually get to experience it hands-on — all the traditions and fun little things we get to do, especially with the figurines and the lanterns,” Paul said. “It’s just not the same online. So I think that’s going to be really special for a lot of people, especially [those] that haven’t been to a Lunar New Year festival before.”

The Chinese classes put on a variety of performances. There was a dragon dance, square dancing and an original song performed by the Chinese Seminar class. Gosselin said she was also happy the Chinese classes can teach the broader community about New Years’ traditions.

“They are not just learning about a culture, but they are learning through doing something,” Gosselin said. “They have to do something and then do research to learn about it, ‘What is the origin, what is the significance, why does Chinese culture use this?’ And then … they can tell the Archer community about it. So it’s very educational, and they are excited about inviting the Archer community to also learn.”

Shayaan Gandhi is a new freshman at Archer. As she walked around her first Lunar New Year celebration, she enjoyed the environment.

“It was very excitable and very enthusiastic,” Gandhi said. “Everybody was trying to either watch or go to one of the activities. It was really fun.”

When asked to describe the celebration in one word, Bruce choose “exciting” because she saw it go from the planning stages to coming alive in person.

“I look forward to planning. I think it brings our class together, in a way, because we go from learning about the culture and speaking it in class to actually putting it out into physical space,” Bruce said. “So it’s nice to plan with the class, and it brings us together, and it’s just exciting to see it come to life after all of the hard work and planning.”

Beyond planning and having fun, Gosselin said that putting together the Lunar New Year celebration is a way for her students to foster their leadership skills.

“I’m very glad that we have this opportunity for students to develop their organizational skills, leadership skills and public speech or performance skills for this festival because it requires a lot of organizational skills,” Gosselin said. “It’s not just about Chinese culture or Chinese language but about developing all the skills we want [for] our girls to be leaders.” 


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  • Chinese 2’s booth consists of desk lanterns as well as candles. “I want to give like a special thanks to Mr. Carter,” Chinese teacher Pei-Ying Gosselin said. “Every year, we spend many hours trying to design different projects. He’s very supportive, and I have learned a lot from this process every year.”

    Photo credit: Grace Doyle

  • Chinese Foundations students participate in the annual dragon dance. “We want to bring this culture to Archer so that our students can experience it,” Gosselin said.

    Photo credit: Grace Doyle

  • Students gather at the the dough figurine station to model their zodiac sign. “I am really excited to see all the smiles on my student’s faces,” Gosselin said. “Also seeing others student’s happiness when they learn something is really amazing. In the breakout room, it’s hard to not have that personal interaction.”

    Photo credit: Grace Doyle

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