Festival of Asia brings in Chinese New Year, highlights students' culture
Chinese students studying at Lisle's Benedictine University won't have time to travel 7,000 miles to enjoy the Chinese New Year, their country's biggest celebration.
So, in keeping with the Benedictine tradition of hospitality, the university will bring the food, festivities and fun associated with the holiday to Lisle and the surrounding community during the seventh annual Festival of Asia celebration from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday, Jan. 31, in the Krasa Student Center, 5700 College Ave.
The Festival of Asia evolved from a need to provide Chinese international students an opportunity to acknowledge their heritage. It has since grown into a popular community event showcasing the diverse culture and traditions of the university's Asian population.
The public is invited and encouraged to attend. Tickets must be purchased in advance and will not be available at the door.
The festival includes traditional Asian cuisine and performances featuring Benedictine students. Attendees can participate in table tennis tournaments, view a cooking contest and shop in an Asian-style market that features authentic clothing, jewelry, art and more.
"Benedictine is delighted to provide Asian students the opportunity to celebrate their cultural traditions with the local community while they are away from home," said Elsie Yuan, executive director of International Programs and Services at Benedictine.
"The Festival of Asia is also about promoting cultural understanding by bringing people from diverse backgrounds together," she said. "We encourage people to interact and learn from one another, which hopefully leads us to build a more connected and mindful world community."
The celebration also is known for its performances, which in the past have included a martial arts show from the Illinois Shaolin Kung Fu school in Naperville.
This year's festival will feature a dance performance by the Ray Chinese School based on the legend of the female warrior Mulan, who volunteered to go to war in place of her elderly father.
The Ray Chinese School is the largest Chinese school in the Chicago area and offers Chinese language, painting, dancing, music, chess and martial arts classes, cultural exchanges, sports and social activities for students, parents and other community members.
Since the first Festival of Asia in 2008, the university has greatly expanded its Asia programs at home and overseas.
Today, Benedictine class sites in China and Vietnam serve roughly 500 students. U.S. students have consistently been awarded full and partial Chinese government scholarships to study in China through the support of the Consulate-General of the People's Republic of China in Chicago.
Benedictine faculty members also have conducted research and participated in faculty exchanges, and every year the university hosts visiting scholars from China.
To prepare more students for an increasingly China-centric global community, last fall Benedictine added a Chinese language (Mandarin) minor with an option for a Chinese culture track.
Admission to the Festival of Asia is $20, which includes a family style lunch.
For information or to purchase tickets, visit ben.edu/FOAreg or contact the Office of International Programs and Services at (630) 829-6354.
To view a video of the 2013 Festival of Asia, visit ben.edu/FOAvideo.
If you goWhat: Festival of Asia
When: 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday, Jan. 31
Where: Krasa Student Center at Benedictine University, 5700 College Ave., Lisle
Tickets: $20, $15 for Benedictine faculty and staff, $10 for Benedictine students; must be purchased in advance
Info: ben.edu/foareg/ or (630) 829-6354