Students celebrated Chinese New Year at all-Ivy gala in Sanders

3 min read

The Harvard Chinese Students and Scholars Association (HCSSA) presented an all-Ivy League evening gala to a capacity audience at Sanders Theatre on Jan. 29 to celebrate the upcoming Chinese New Year – the year of the rabbit – which comes on Feb.3.

The gala, under the theme “Bond,” gathered performers from all eight Ivy League schools, including Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, the University of Pennsylvania, Princeton, Yale, and Harvard. It was the first time in history that the eight universities have come together to commemorate this most important Chinese holiday.

“At this special moment of family gathering, we are bound together by our shared culture, similar backgrounds, and common pursuits,” said Zhang Haifei, Ph.D ’13, president of HCSSA and producer of the gala. “We come together to celebrate and share our rich history and culture with our family, friends, and more than one thousand students and scholars from eight Ivy League Universities.”

Mark C. Elliott, the Mark Schwartz Professor of Chinese and Inner Asian History at Harvard, delivered the keynote “New Year’s in Old Times” – in Chinese. He told the audience that Chinese New Year was a great discovery for him when he was in college, because the holiday fell in between Christmas and Easter, an otherwise uneventful period.

The gala featured 18 performances from more than 200 Chinese students, ranging from traditional peacock dance to solo erhu performance to to stand-up comedy. Wang Shi, chairman of China’s largest real estate enterprise Vanke, made a surprise guest appearance in a magic poker show put on by Harvard student Yu Jingyi, Ph.D ’14.

“This was a wonderful spring festival gala. All of the performances were of high quality,” said Zhang Hongda, one of the eight MC’s of the gala and a graduate student in materials science and engineering at the University of Pennsylvania. “It was a great experience to cooperate with the other seven hosts and hostesses to anchor this gala.”

“The event was a huge success,” said Sun Leizhi, Ph.D ’13, executive producer of the gala. “Considering the unprecedented scale and complexity of the event, it was a remarkable achievement for the entire organizing team.”

The 1,000 tickets to the gala were sold out 10 days prior to the show. Among the audience were undergraduates and graduates from the eight Ivy League schools, as well as students and scholars from the general Boston area. Many praised the show as stunning and unforgettable.

“I was immensely impressed with the event – the level of organization, the quality of the acts,” Garth O. McCavana, Ph.D ’90, dean for GSAS student affairs who gave the welcome remarks at the gala, wrote in an email. “I only wish that I could speak Chinese to understand what was going on, especially with the stand-up comedians!”