By Madeline Sumida, Elementary Program Teacher & Site Coordinator
Photo Courtesy of AALEAD Student
Through the end of February and early March, AALEAD students at Bancroft Elementary School celebrated and learned about the Lunar New Year by sharing their family traditions and exploring unfamiliar ways of welcoming the New Year!
By comparing and contrasting the holiday in China, Korea, and Vietnam, students learned about the common origin of the spring festival as well as practices unique to each country. Kindergarteners enjoyed making goat paper cut-outs to celebrate the Year of the Ram/Goat/Sheep and decorated lucky fish for loved ones. Many of the Bancroft second graders celebrate Tet, the Vietnamese New Year, and were able to share about their own experiences and traditions. They described customs such as setting up a tree with yellow flowers, eating treats, and getting red money envelopes from their adult relatives. Students had the opportunity to make fun of the teacher’s failure to correctly pronounce the Vietnamese New Year greeting: Chuc Mung Nam Moi. The class also enjoyed making Chinese fortune stick games and a Korean board game called yut nori.
These activities gave students a valuable opportunity to build confidence in their identities by celebrating and reflecting on their own culture and family traditions, while building respect for other traditions and expressions of culture.
For the culminating activity, a cross-cultural Lunar New Year party, students made their own Vietnamese lion dance costume (called a múa lân, which in Vietnamese culture is actually a kind of unicorn). After dancing several times to the evil spirit-scaring clash of cymbals, the hungry students sat down to sample traditional foods such as roasted watermelon seeds, dried mango, and dumplings. As a special surprise, teaching assistant Nam handed out red envelopes, something he remembered enjoying from his days as an AALEAD student.
Chuc Mung Nam Moi!