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Mercer Asia brings back Lunar New Year Dinner following COVID-19 hiatus

<p>Mercer’s Vietnamese Student Association performs a fan dance at the Mercer Asia Lunar New Year Dinner.</p>

Mercer’s Vietnamese Student Association performs a fan dance at the Mercer Asia Lunar New Year Dinner.

Mercer Asia hosted a Lunar New Year dinner Feb. 7, featuring performances by students, prizes and a free dinner for attendees.

The event took place in Penfield Hall and was open to the entire student body. Attendance was high, and volunteers had to bring out extra tables and chairs to accommodate all the attendees.

This is Mercer Asia’s first Lunar New Year dinner since before the COVID-19 pandemic. The group held one in-person event during the 2020-2021 school year, which was a movie night to celebrate Lunar New Year rather than a large dinner.

Sophomore Caroline Ulsaker is the current president of Mercer Asia.

“The problem was that we had the event the February before COVID shut everything down, and we went through all of COVID year all online,” Ulsaker said. “We weren’t sure if we’d be able to pull this off, but through great help from SGA and great volunteer help, we’ve been able to pull it back together for the first time in two years.”

Performances at the event included a fan dance by Mercer’s Vietnamese Student Association, three Japanese, Chinese and Korean folk songs played by Mercer’s flute choir and a dance routine by the Mercer K-Pop Dance team.

There have been more performers in years past, according to Ulsaker.

“Traditionally we have a lot more people, but due to COVID and injuries and not having enough for their dance teams or their singing, we just didn’t have the numbers,” Ulsaker said. "I’m just thankful that we have the people in tonight’s performance.” 

Daniel Mai, the historian of Mercer Asia, also played a solo piece on the flute, performing "Que Huong," a Vietnamese folk song.

After the performances, the group announced the winners of a raffle conducted during the event, giving out a Bath & Body Works set and Amazon gift cards to the winners.

The event concluded with two Kahoot games, quizzing attendees on facts about Lunar New Year.

Ulsaker said that she is happy to see the event return to Mercer.

“It’s been a trying couple years,” Ulsaker said. “Last year, I can’t think of a single event where everybody wasn’t set apart or stressed out about ‘well, there’s people, should I go?’ We’re all feeling a little more comfortable now, and it’s a lot more safe. I’m looking forward to seeing people having a good time.”

Samantha Homcy

Samantha Homcy ‘23 is a junior at Mercer majoring in journalism and criminal justice. She has been working at The Cluster since her freshman year and served as Social Media Co-Manager during the spring 2021 semester. She is currently a practicum intern with WMAZ-TV. In her free time she enjoys music, community service, watching TV and finding new ways to get involved on Mercer’s campus. 


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