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Scene from 2023 Lunar New Year event

A special event this Saturday welcomes the Marietta community to celebrate the Year of the Dragon.

This year’s Multicultural Festival and Lunar New Year Celebration will take place from 4:00-6:30 p.m. Saturday, January 27, in The Gathering Place. Students, MC employees and community members will be treated with performances that include U.S. World Martial Arts Champion Sen Gao, Angolan & Brazilian Martial Arts by Capoeira, Russian music by St. Nicholas Balakaika Orchestra, demonstrations by the Ohio Valley Taekwondo Academy, and Marietta College students.

“Celebrating multiculturalism in our community fosters understanding, empathy, and unity,” said Jenni Zhang, Assistant Professor in the McDonough Leadership Program. “It opens doors to different perspectives, promotes inclusivity, and creates a richer tapestry of experiences, ultimately enhancing community cohesiveness. The multicultural celebrations on campus enrich the educational experience for our students and expose them to a variety of cultures, perspectives, and ideas, fostering a more inclusive and globally aware learning environment. As one of the College’s missions, diversity and global awareness prepares students for a complex, interconnected world and promotes critical thinking and open-mindedness.”

The Chinese New Year begins February 10 — which is the start of the Year of the Dragon. The dragon is the fifth animal in the 12-year Chinese zodiac cycle. Each year, Marietta College hosts a community-wide celebration that attracts hundreds of guests to campus.

Yutaro Ito ’25 (Osaka, Japan), President of Global Connections, said the McDonough Center for Leadership and the Office of Diversity & Inclusion primarily organizes the event. Ito, Riley Hayes ’27 (Hazel Green, Alabama), Nagisa Harada ’25 (Tokyo, Japan), and Madelyn Crawford ’25 (Bellaire, Ohio) will emcee the event.

“This year, a group of students from the McDonough Leadership Center helped organize this event as a part of the Make A Difference Day project,” Ito said. “They have attended the committee meetings, come up with ideas, and engaged in communication with participants, sponsors, and different resources on campus to make this event happen. As the largest cultural student organization on campus, members of Global Connections will be helping with this event too. Members will serve at a table, perform, and emcee on the stage, and volunteer to run the event. In addition, CSHO scholars (Charles Sumner Harrison Scholarship) will be joining us to help with the event. They are all so excited about bringing various cultures and spirits of the world to the campus of Marietta College.”

The event will also feature a selection of cultural dishes for guests to taste and learn about the communities in which they’re traditionally served. Tony Mayle, Director of Diversity & Inclusion at Marietta, said guests can learn about and experience other cultures through the food.

For Harada, being able to help organize and celebrate the Lunar New Year with a diverse group of people from different countries is special to her.

“This event is a great opportunity to learn more about different traditions and food,” Harada said. “It provides a sense of belonging for everyone involved by celebrating together as one. The inclusion of performances, food, and unique aspects of different cultures helps to do this in a fun and exciting way. I’m glad we invite members of the local community so that we may leave a lasting impact on Marietta's perception of different cultures for generations to come.”