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This is my 1,295th Day From Home

At midnight on January 20th, I was editing the Lunar New Year celebration trailer in my room. Looking through the interview clips of international students from different ages and different nationalities, I saw that each face showed both sadness and happiness. They were missing home, missing the food, missing their families and the childhood games. The goal for the International Student Union this year is to make the students celebrating Lunar New Year feel at home.

Early in January, the first meeting of ISU was focused on two tasks: MLK affinity space and Lunar New Year celebration. With less than two weeks left for us to prepare, ISU facilitators distributed tasks evenly. The plan was finalized and it was decided that the celebration would start with food stations, card games and mahjong, a Chinese game played by four people with 144 tiles. Then, it would end with a students’ talent show. It was easy to plan, but hard to activate. First, it started with Bryan Z, Eason W and JosephW negotiating with the kitchen for the portion and types of food that we need. The hardest thing was not many people filled out the celebration survey which would provide data on an estimated amount of people who would participate. The “food” team also communicated with API for further co-operations and help. Then, Cory Z and Elaine X were in charge of decorating the dining hall and gym. Finally, filming and editing the Lunar New Year video which consists of students’ memories of new year at home and best wishes from students’ parents were on the team of Grace L, Evelyn Z and me. I do not know if it was a “good” choice for me interviewing students about their memories in their hometown, because I could hardly control my tears during the process. At the same time, I organized another team of students who would host the Lunar New Year Student Talent Show in Mandarin, Cantonese, Taiwanese, Korean, and Vietnamese. The plan was on track and posters for recruiting performances were up on the wall. Everything looked perfect, but my heart was beating fast. I was nervous for many reasons: “what happens if there are not enough performances and not enough people come? What else would happen?”

The worries were not without reason. Accidents could happen like the phone not playing music during one of the performances or the order of performances getting mixed up. The whole team was panicked and nervous. Thankfully, people came to the celebration. International students became enamored when they saw their parents in the video and everyone had a great time. “I was proud that a lot of faculty members were being supportive in our preparation process. I was also proud that so many domestic students came and stayed until the end of our celebration. I am proud of all the work that ISU facilitators have done. I am proud that I was able to host the talent show because I didn’t expect hosting it would be that difficult.” Bryan Z said in the interview.

International students are a group of people who have to learn how to be independent and how to be alone. This is day 1,295, my fourth year away from home. We get used to not having red pockets, fireworks, and families in the Lunar New Year, but we can never get used to feeling homesick during the holidays. In the next few years, let us embrace each other in the new year. Happy New Year!

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