Students in Sean Salminen's fifth-grade class at South Pointe Scholars Charter Academy celebrated Chinese New Year by making dumplings and paper lanterns, which are synonymous with Chinese New Year. Since returning from winter break, the class had been getting progressively more familiar with Chinese language and culture through daily language lessons to prep for this large activity.
“Prior to Chinese New Year, students learned about some of the cultural elements of Chinese New Year, such as red being the color of luck and prosperity, yellow being the color of fortune, etc.,” said Salminen. “Students also generated Chinese names based on their English name, birthdate/Chinese zodiac year, and personal attributes."
Students made paper lanterns, which are everywhere during the celebration. They are a marker of the festivity of the New Year, and many Chinese cities have lantern festivals during this time. Students also got their hands dirty by doing "bao jiaozi,” otherwise known as dumpling rolling. Dumplings are shaped like old Chinese coins, so making dumplings a symbol of success and fortune coming to your family.
“The biggest takeaway from this experience is that the world is so much bigger than our immediate sphere of influence,” said Salminen. “Many students in my class had never had dumplings or ever touched chopsticks. This was an experience that completely threw them out of their comfort zone to experience something genuine from a real, different world culture.”
Happy Chinese New Year and 新年快乐！