In years past, Kalamazoo’s Chinese New Year Gala has been a way of bringing the community together to celebrate the Lunar New Year. This year, the gala has transitioned to an online format.
The annual Lunar New Year celebration aired on WMU International’s Youtube channel on Friday, Feb. 5 and brought together a community distanced by the pandemic.
“We had an opportunity to involve alum from out of state and in China,” said Dr. Ying Zeng of WMU’s Haenicke Institute, who helped organize this event.
The ala started with video of students greeting other members of the community in the Kalamazoo area. It featured collaboration with WMU, Kalamazoo Public Schools and the Kalamazoo Chinese Academy.
“We don’t know when we’ll ever go to China again,” said Lynn Chen-Zeng, a member of the board of trustees for WMU. In years past, Chen-Zeng has emceed the Gala when it was in person.
Chen-Zeng discussed how the pandemic has caused the world to feel smaller, with most travel restricted and everyone limited to staying mostly in one place.
In between all of the performances and presentations from students of all ages in the community, were games of trivia about the holiday hosted on Kahoot. The games were all hosted live when the Gala premiered.
The program for this year took time to set up and adjust to the parameters of a virtual environment.
“I started to plan this in October, so we had a solid 3 months of preparation,” Zeng said. The long preparation period was filled with much testing and editing of the pre recorded content.
Looking ahead to future galas, Zeng is not ready to leave the accessibility of a virtual gathering by the wayside.
“We will probably do a hybrid program,” Zeng said. “Maybe we can show a recorded program for our alum and people out of country.”
The full gala will remain available on YouTube for viewing on the Lunar New Year, Feb. 12.