Portland Community College’s Southeast Center is ushering in the “Year of the Horse” with the 12th Annual Asian New Year Celebration from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., Monday, Feb. 17.
The celebration prides itself on not only honoring the Chinese Lunar New Year, but taking that opportunity to celebrate all of the Asian cultures that are represented within the Southeast Portland community. In charge of planning the annual Southeast Center signature event is the Asian New Year Celebration Committee, which consists of 13 students, advisors, staff, faculty and the dean of students. The committee also draws upon strong community support from more than two dozen businesses within the Jade District.
Chairing the committee is international student Naomi Barbos, who came to the United States from Romania in 2011 and is in her second year as a PCC international student at the Southeast Center. She began as an English for Speakers of Other Languages student to improve her English and works closely with fellow international students to get them involved on campus. After joining ASPCC (student government), she became chair of the Asian New Year Committee.
We sat down with Naomi to get a student perspective on what it’s like to be in charge of organizing such a big multicultural community celebration.
What are some of the things you have learned as you have planned this event?
Barbos: Being Romanian, I didn’t really know much about Asian cultures, especially the Chinese Zodiac. It’s totally different. But being in this position it has been really interesting and I got to learn more about it. Also, I’ve learned how many cultures there are in Asia. It’s a very expansive continent.
What degree are you working on and what do you plan to do after PCC?
Barbos: Currently, I’m working on my associate’s of science degree and when I finish it I plan to move on to a medical school. I don’t know what exactly I want to do, but I would like to be a doctor. At the same time, I’m very excited about nutrition and exercise. So, maybe I will go more into these areas.
Why should people go to the Asian New Year Celebration?
Barbos: I think, as it was for me, that for everyone who goes there will be exciting for them to see the lion dances and martial arts demonstrations as well as the little kids playing the drums. Just to see the Asian cultures there together as a community having a good time is exciting. I think it’s a nice experience for everyone.
Are there any other events connected to Asian New Year?
Barbos: On Feb. 11 we are going to have the Asian Market from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Great Hall. The purpose of it is to bring vendors that represent different parts of Asia together so they can promote Asian New Year. And in this way, people will understand that the Asian culture is very diverse. Having this market a week before will be helpful for people to understand and be aware of the Asian New Year Celebration.
What are the benefits of being so involved at Southeast?
Barbos: I think joining ASPCC has been a great benefit for me because I have been able to interact with students from all over the world. We speak in English all the time and organize events for students, which was good practice for me. It helped me tremendously to improve my English.
What are you looking forward to?
Barbos: I’m excited to see how the celebration will go. We are bringing in new performers, dancers and different activities. Hopefully, everyone will enjoy it.