Classical dancing, festive music, cheerful gathering — this year’s Lunar New Year celebration performance held by the UR Chinese Student Association (URCSA) came on time and was as exciting as the past years’, except for the hint of grief due to the Monterey Park mass shooting on Jan. 21. 

The tradition of celebrating the Lunar New Year through a cultural performance goes back all the way to the year when URCSA was first established. “It has been passed on for over 40 years,” says junior and URCSA President Liwei Ma.

While the Monterey Park incident has not been determined as a hate crime by officials, the fact that it happened following a Lunar New Year celebration is enough to shake the Asian American community across the country. “Lunar New Year is supposed to be a time of celebration and reunion, yet 11 families will forever remember this as a time of grief,” says junior and Fundraising Department Chair Bill Li.

This Tuesday, the Office of Equity and Inclusion sent out a message in regard to the shooting in Monterey Park. Despite the incident happening thousands of miles away in California, the Rochester community shared the sorrow. “This made me scared. Although this did not happen in New York State, I still feel that the security is even worse after COVID-19 […] I think it will alert the Rochester Community as well,” says first-year Mandy Cheng. The University expressed its empathy in the letter and offered a variety of resources in support of the members of the Asian and Pacific Islander communities.

“The upcoming new year celebration is an event that delivers a sense of belonging to Chinese students, so I feel this event carries more than a cultural performance show. It’s a symbol of cohesion,” says Ma. The URCSA performance on Saturday delivered the same message of unity during a night of Southeast Asian dance, K-pop dance, Chinese music, and more. 

Despite the distance, the reverberations of Monterey Park are felt in the Rochester community, and the community stands in solidarity with the victims of the incident. “I think one thing the Rochester community should learn from this event is that we must educate ourselves on how to deal with an active shooter better. Always identify the nearest emergency exit and run first, hide second, and fight only if running and hiding are no longer available options,” says Li.

Tagged: Lunar New Year

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