In the company of friends and great food, students gathered this past weekend to usher in a new lunar year. Cultural organizations on campus took a key role in providing free food and festive spaces for the student body.
Two groups that hosted Lunar New Year festivities were the Korean Student Association (KSA) and the Undergraduate Chinese American Association (UCAA). Each organization had a unique way of celebrating the New Year. The KSA hosted the Pojangmacha Night Market, which took place during the evening at Wilbur Field. At the event, students enjoyed staples of Korean street food by the light of mason jar luminaries.
“It was a challenge to put it together on Wilbur Field…and it’s also difficult to get together so much food and give it away for free,” said Ashley Burke ’17, a KSA member.
According to Burke, this was the first time that KSA hosted the Pojangmacha event in proximity to Lunar New Year.
“We’ve never had a Korean presence on Lunar New Year before,” Burke said. “This is the biggest turnout we’ve had [to the Pojangmacha Night Market].”
Although the KSA had to limit portions to accommodate the large number of guests, one of the guests, Roberts Mencis ’18, said the quality of the food was worth it.
“[It was] very delicious – I wish there was more, but what they gave was very good,” Mencis said.
Another student, Sarah Jiang ’16, was struck by all the effort that went into the event.
“I really appreciate all the work that everyone did,” she said. “It was clear that they had worked many, many hours to put it all together, and I am going to be donating [to their Venmo].”
Besides asking for cash donations, KSA also hosted a USB drive in conjunction to the event. Every guest who brought a USB drive to donate to send to North Korea was able to get food first and head to the picnic tables set up by the group. The night was filled with the sound of K-pop music and chattering voices on Wilbur Field.
The UCAA event took place in the Asian American Activities Center (A3C) ballroom, which was decked out with streamers and lanterns. There was also a stage set up for a lineup of performers to entertain guests during their meal. UCAA has been hosting this event for many years, according to UCAA co-chair Chenyao Yu ’17.
“A big part of our mission is to celebrate our culture and expose our culture to the wider Stanford community, and so Chinese New Year is our biggest celebration of the year,” Yu said. “Year to year, the main changes are just the performances. We’ve always had a good turnout, so we haven’t really deviated too much.”
Performances this year included a little girl playing the guzheng, a Chinese string instrument, and a Christian a cappella group. Students seemed to be very taken by the performances.
“It’s fantastic, the food is great, the performances are really on point, the ambiance is very nice, and it’s well-decorated,” said Dixee Kimball ’18. “[It] gives a very good feeling. It’s a great way to de-stress.”
Even though the food and performances pleased students, being able to celebrate the New Year with friends really defined the experience for many. Guests came in groups, and some students, like Alan Aw ’18, came to support friends who were organizing the event or performing.
“I have a lot of friends who are here,” Aw said. “I want to support them, and I also feel like it’s a good time for me to enjoy the season.”
Both the KSA and UCAA spent time marketing the event on Facebook, but the prospect of sharing a New Year’s meal with friends served a key role in inspiring attendance for some event-goers.
“I was expecting to go eat at Stern Dining tonight, but just before I was about to enter one of my best friends told me about [Pojangmacha], and I knew at that moment I could not pass [it] up,” Mencis said.