Warhawks connect over Moon Festival celebration

Everyone watched in awe as Joyce Zhou danced like a pebble ripping across water. 

Zhou, a marketing professor, was dressed in a pink and white Chinese water sleeve outfit as she connected with the audience by showcasing a traditional Chinese dance.

She explained how Chinese people celebrate the annual Mid-Autumn Festival, also known as the Moon Festival.

The International Student Association hosted its annual Moon Festival event to share the importance of this holiday celebrated by Southeast Asian students, faculty and staff.

Gina White, director of International Services, said it is important to build bridges with international students and cultures.

“We have to make sure that we celebrate and embrace everyone’s culture so we can build bridges to show that we are more alike than different,” White said. 

Other countries such as Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau, Vietnam and Japan also honor the holiday to commemorate the end of the autumn harvest and the full moon.

Sara Kim, an assistant communication professor, said Koreans usually take part in the religious holiday in a more modern way by worshiping and recognizing deceased ancestors in the family.

Both professors taught students how to say “Mid-Autumn Festival” in Chinese and Korean—“Zhongqiu Jié” and “Chuseok,” respectively.

Students got to create their own face masks decorated in colorful paint and Asian food including mooncakes were served. 

Attendees watched a movie about the festival called “Over the Moon,” about a young girl who builds a rocket ship to the moon to meet a mythical goddess. 

Lanterns were not released this year as they usually are because of safety regulations and weather. 

However, White said students and faculty still enjoyed learning and participating in the holiday.

“We thought we would have a loss of student engagement without the lanterns being lit,” White said. “But I think everyone was just as engaged wearing a mask and watching a movie together.”

Kaile Finies, a communication graduate student, said there is still more the university could do to make the international community feel more inclusive.

“Opening up the floor more and listening to what the students want to see on campus can really help a lot,” Finies said.

Caleb Parker, a freshman biology major, said this was an opportunity to learn about different cultures and connect with a celebration similar to his own. 

“I’m someone who likes learning about different cultures,” Parker said. “I’m Pagan, so we celebrate the Autumn Equinox literally in the same week, so it’s a holiday somewhat correlating with my own.”