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College’s Asian Student Organization joins Lunar New Year celebration in Uptown

Kate Julianne Larroder
Columbia’s Asian Student Organization planned an outing for students to attend the Lunar New Year parade on Saturday, Feb. 17, 2024. Families and individuals cheered as the lions made their way marching down the Uptown neighborhood of Chicago.

The Argyle Lunar New Year Parade is a longstanding Uptown tradition that celebrates the start of the new Lunar Year with music, lion dances and live entertainment, featuring over 20 local community groups, cultural institutions, dancers and performers. 

Members of the Asian Student Organization attended the kick-off parade on Saturday, Feb. 17 at Argyle Street and Winthrop Avenue. Lunar New Year celebrations usually start on the evening preceding the first day of the new year, which was Feb. 9 this year, and run until Feb. 24. Chinatown held its new year parade on Sunday, Feb. 18. 

Mari Taleff, ASO’s social media manager and excursion leader, said the Uptown parade was a great way for the organization to connect and explore one of the many ways Asian culture is celebrated in Chicago.

“Not only are we able to connect with each other, but the Asian community in the city as well,” said Taleff, a senior fine arts major.

Students with mixed backgrounds, like Mayah Asuncion, a first-year acoustics major, sometimes struggle to fully immerse themselves in one culture more than the other, leading to a sense of belonging to both and feeling like an outsider in each.

“I never really felt entirely connected to my Chinese heritage,” she said, “and being able to see the parade with people that are so connected to their heritage made this really feel unified.”

Skyla Blumenscheid, a junior contemporary jazz and popular music major, said it was exciting to experience something new as it was her first time attending a Lunar New Year parade. 

“I think it’s important to attend activities like this because it just gives a space and an opportunity for many Asian communities to celebrate a lot of different Asian cultures,” she said.

One of ASO’s missions is to promote connection within the Asian Pacific Islander Desi American community, a pan-ethnic classification that intentionally includes South Asians. The group also seeks to create a safe space for the pan-Asian population and allies. 

“Not all Asian cultures celebrate Lunar New Year, so ASO making an outing…helps our mission by promoting learning and celebration within our own community,” Taleff said.

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About the Contributor
klarroder@columbiachronicle.com   Kate Julianne Larroder is a sophomore communications major, minoring in journalism. She joined the Chronicle as a reporter in January 2024.   Hometown: The Philippines