Eastern New Mexico University will have the largest turnout it has ever seen for its annual Chinese banquet, according to event coordinator and graduate student Kaiwen Xu.
Xu said the event, presented by ENMU’s international Chinese students, usually draws in a little less than 200 people but this year, there will be well more than 200 in attendance.
“This year, we have more people from the outside community coming,” Xu said. “It’s going to be a huge banquet, very exciting.”
Xu said more attendance from the outside community is not the only change the banquet underwent this year.
“This year, we have also invited Americans to sing Chinese songs,” Xu said. “That’s never been done.”
Xu said another new element to this year’s banquet is a Chinese student playing the gu zheng, a Chinese string instrument comparable to a harp.
“It’s like Christmas in America,” Xu said of the new year tradition. “Family gets together. We would go home every year but we have school.”
Xu said the tradition stemmed from a story about a monster that people could keep from visiting their village by setting off fireworks and hanging red paper in their doorways.
Xu said 2012 is the year of the dragon, so the theme of the event will be based on that particular animal, whose characteristics are courage, romantic and self-confident.
Cui Xu, a senior and another event coordinator, said being in the U.S. has made her realize how much her parents mean to her, but has also given her the opportunity to learn a lot about Americans she did not know before.
“I think it’s been awesome,” Cui Xu said. “I think people here pay much attention to their families.”
Xu said the performance was given a more modern flair last year with the costumes, singing and dancing. This year, students are going with a traditional style.
“We wanted to show the real traditional way we do things in China,” Xu said. “We wanted to show people what we do and who we are more than we did last year.”
Xu said the university has about 140 international students, 70 of which are Chinese.
“We are very lucky the school can give us this opportunity to share our culture with others and to feel more like we’re at home,” Xu said.
Cui Xu said a person can only understand and appreciate the detail in the dances when they see it for themselves, so she is excited about the event and feels it will be successful.
“Usually everyone is so shy,” Cui Xu said of the performers. “But this year, everyone really wanted to show their best, so the show was easier to make. We’re excited.”