South Dakota State University's Independent Student-Run Newspaper Since 1885

The Collegian

South Dakota State University's Independent Student-Run Newspaper Since 1885

The Collegian

South Dakota State University's Independent Student-Run Newspaper Since 1885

The Collegian

China Night returns after four years

Tate Peterson
People attending China Night at the Valstorff Ballroom in the South Dakota State University Student Union Sunday, Sept. 26, 2023.

The first China Night in four years at South Dakota State University had a “huge turnout,” according to Chinese Student & Scholar Association Adviser. 

More than 500 people packed the Volstorff Ballroom to celebrate Chinese culture Sunday night and experience traditional cuisine, and entertainment from the community. 

“Overall, we tried to balance the dances, vocal music performances, instrumental acts, young performers from the community and more traditional acts,” said Faculty Adviser Wenfeng An. 

This year’s event aligned with the Mid-Autumn festival on Sept. 29, which focuses on celebrating traditional folk lore, family reunion and the years successful harvest across China.  

The event started with introducing the nights co-hosts, and speeches from special guests SDSU President Barry Dunn, Brookings Mayor Opeke “Ope” Niemeyer, and (CSSA) President Jiahui Yuan. 

“What struck me was the warmth and the great experience from the performers and the connection they had to the audience,” said Dunn after the event, “I think that the community is really benefited from a night like this.”  

The food was a key part of the festivities and the menu showcased traditional flavors of China with Hunan, Schezuan and Northeastern Chinese being featured on the menu. The special dessert of the evening was traditional Chinese mooncakes, a staple of the Mid-Autumn festival.  

“We asked the community to nominate what dishes they wanted to see through email and social media, in the end we tried to feature original cuisines that are representative to those regions of China,” An said. 

The entertainment started with a Chinese Lion Dance by the Sioux Falls Lion Dance Team, known for over 100 performances in their 10-year history. This traditional dance symbolizes new fortunes and wards off negativity. 

“When I reached out to the leader of the team, I found out he attended SDSU to get his master’s degree, and was actually an officer of the CSSA who participated in three China Nights himself,” An said.  

Daniel Justice, an Instructional Designer at SDSU and a co-host and performer of the evening, shared his own story at the event. 

Justice, who traveled to Sichuan, China, in 2015 to teach English, was involved in a motor accident that fractured the bones in his leg. It was at this time people the people around him showed concern and support after only knowing him for five months. 

“The story demonstrates people’s genuine concern, and once again characteristics that totally match the way I was brought up. Growing up in South Dakota, I was taught to be friendly, helpful, and generous. In Sichuan, all those characteristics matched the people I was meeting,” said Justice. 

When reviewing feedback from the audience, An and Justice heard great things. As for Sunday, Justice was excited for the Lion Dance. 

“I was really impressed by the Lion Dance, I learned that was a traditional way to begin a celebratory festival, it begins with the Lion Dance, kind of like cheerleaders, which isn’t a great analogy, but it gets people excited,” Justice said. 

As the night went on there were dances, instrumental acts, and an inciteful Chinese Q&A for audience members to ask whichever questions they wanted. 

One performance the audience loved from the evening was a non-verbal skit showing two different people, one being a woman from a big city, the other being from the country. “It was a stereotyped play that was exaggerated, but was really funny,” An said. 

Hopefully people in South Dakota might know, I have relatives that are more rural, some that are more urban, it’s not rude it’s just a way to show different perspectives,” Justice said. 

China Night returned after a four-year gap due to COVID and other challenges. After the pandemic ended it was time for the (CSSA) to discuss how they were going bring back another China Night. 

“Traditionally China Night is held in the spring, during, before, or after the Chinese Spring festival usually around March,” An said. For China Night coming back there was a lot of work. The (CSSA) had a transition of student club officers, as well as new people on the organizing committee so some of the event planning process had to start at the beginning. 

For next year’s China Night it is currently under discussion by event coordinators. “It would be ideal, if we do it annually, or if we want to go back to the springtime to feature the spring festival. If we do it this next spring. There’s some consideration,” An said.  

“It was just so much fun and we’re really happy everyone joined us, it’s hard to encapsulate everything that happened in a sound bite, we really just wanted everyone to come out and enjoy the food and entertainment,” An said. 

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