ORLANDO, Fla. - Valencia Community College is bringing everyone together by connecting students from different cultures. The East Campus hosted the annual Chinese Festival on March 3, this year of the Tiger, for hours of enlightening activities and performances.
The members of the International Club were there to help set up the decorations, hand out fried dumplings, and translate the names of students into modern Chinese symbols.
Jorge Reyes, a student volunteer, received both his first name and last name in full Chinese characters, as translated by Edsion Dai, a member of the club. The words are written according to their pronunciation, said Dai, in segments proportional to the number of syllables in the name.
Lion dancing took place, which usually entails two people per lion, one the head, the other the tail end, who wear a traditional animal costume and move to the rhythm of a beating drum. Each motion and flick of the lions' "body parts" symbolizes different behaviors and overall emotions that the lion may be having. For example, during the beginning of the dance, the two lions greet each other by seeming to sniff one another's behind. Then each dances, kicks, and jumps around to depict the different events of one larger story.
The theatrics were provided by the Traditional Martial Arts Center. The performers were Fallon Mosley, as the head of the gold lion, with Sifu Charles Rivera, as the tail. Bryan Schmidt and Donald Shaw made up the silver and purple lion.
Students not standing around to watch the show were lining up to participate in the activities under cover of the campus' library entrance. Volunteers and International Club members taught students the art of Origami, Chinese paper cutting, the meaning of their Chinese Zodiac signs, and how to properly use chopsticks. If a student visited a least 2 of these events, they would earn a free dumpling as a warm treat in the face of the harsh wind tearing around the stands that day.
In the middle of the cultural fray, the club president, Meghan LeFranc, was called on stage to accept her Student of the Year Award by adviser Lori Sunday. LeFranc welcomed and thanked everyone for coming to the event and spoke briefly about how enthusiastic she is about being a member of such a vital group on campus.
Originally from France, she said, "Yes, I'm from France, but the Eiffel Tower is not France to me." She said the objective of the club is to bring different students together to give them an insight as to the culture behind the icons that seem to represent each country.
"We try to be a democracy," she said. As the president of the International Club, she wants to hear the views and opinions of the members to try to meet their needs and give each one an opportunity to show the school what their heritage means to them.
Continuing the action, Rivera and Sifu Sam Winters demonstrated the moves involved in proper Tai Chi technique. Regarding this type of meditation, Winters said that it is almost like "moving yoga."
"It increases your balance, stamina and your coordination. Thousands of people in China do it every day. Everyday, like boom! They're in the park, doing Tai Chi.
"It's so good for your health," Winters said.
Each "sifu" brought out his own sword, by the end of the event, to show their skills in Tang Soo Do to the growing crowd.
Rivera has been practicing various Martial Arts for more than 30 years, where students Schmidt and Shaw have been practicing for as much as 14 years, between the both of them.
The International Club has been up and running for more than 20 years now, and still comes together on a weekly basis to bring information to anyone who is curious enough to attend the meetings.
The club is especially for those who wish to travel and learn about life in different countries. Member Marie Andresol said that being involved with the club can help students understand what it would be like to immerse themselves in another culture. The information provided every Tuesday, when the club meets, can give them knowledge on where to go and how to behave in different cultural settings.
Previously published in the Valencia Voice