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It was all planned meticulously over a delightful dinner at a super-hip restaurant in Burlington, N.J. Two IPAL (International Peer Associates League) leaders and I decided to meet over our winter break to plan upcoming IPAL events. (Want to learn more about what it means to be an IPAL? Check out my previous blogpost here.)
This semester wasn’t going to be like the previous ones because this time, we were given the responsibility by big boss Office of International Affairs (OIA) to organize and host—wait for it—a campus-wide event! The pressure was on. It was our time to show the campus what IPALs and OIA are made of! Cliff, Olayinka, and I had to think of some awesome event that would showcase world cultures as well as draw attention and a crowd.
Then it hit us: The Lunar New Year (aka Chinese New Year) was right around the corner—January 28—and what better event than Lunar New Year to celebrate students sharing their cultures with the rest of the curious campus?
“Lots of red and gold. And a ‘Hot Pot!’ We have to have a ‘Hot Pot.’ And dumplings. And red envelopes. And dragons…”
Cliff and Yinka had studied abroad in Korea and China, respectively, so the ideas for this celebration were going off like fireworks. Once our proposal was signed and sealed, it was time to get planning and delivering.
We met with our supervisors at OIA, who gave us the green light and the budget, and a reminder that it was our turn to shine. They helped us book a room in the University Commons, mass-order red and gold balloons, and round up catering supplies. The rest was on us.
Organizing this event was a leadership learning experience that a classroom can’t offer. The three of us had to do our research on everything from best food prices—necessary when you’re ordering over 100 dumplings—to bulk-buying Chinese red envelopes. We had to round up IPAL and international student volunteers, assign jobs, take a supplies trip to the all-powerful Korean supermarket, H-Mart, design fliers and advertise, create decorations and set up the space. We were project creators, managers, and producers. The result? Sheer success!
The celebration lived up to every standard we set. We drew a large crowd, who came to try the Lunar New Year foods, do some origami, and play traditional games—and most importantly, learn about the Lunar New Year culture.
Talk about the event carried over into the following days. Our supervisors at the OIA were extremely proud, and so were we IPALs. Could this Lunar New Year celebration be the birth of a new Arcadia tradition? I think so.