In November, the Center for Diversity and Inclusion moved to the Keppel House, a three-story structure situated between Cook Hall and Gilmore Hall on 10th Street. It’s a cozy-looking building, but is unfortunately little-known to many students at Hope College. This is largely due to the limited number of individuals who regularly occupy the building; previously, this building was home to Campus Ministries. Although there is certainly no restriction against stopping by, the event held last Saturday allowed students who were unfamiliar with the building to come inside and socialize while abiding by the current COVID-19 restrictions.
The Lantern Festival was hosted on Saturday, February 27 from 5-7 p.m. at Keppel House and was co-sponsored by Asian Student Union as well as Women of Color United. The event allowed students to come and go and enjoy a number of stations emphasizing community, such as playing card games, creating arts and crafts, eating snacks, listening to music and dancing. The event was held in celebration of the Lunar New Year, which officially occurred between February 12 and 26. This year is the Year of the Ox.
The Anchor spoke with the Asian Student Union about the event and what its inspiration was. Its President Susan Par (’22), a business major and Phelps Scholar, said: “We’re just going to decorate lanterns, color, play games, maybe watch a movie [on the big screen downstairs]. We haven’t decided what to watch yet.” The event ended up not involving a movie, as participants were already engaged in the event’s other offerings. “It’s a lot of Asian snacks,” said Par. In the snack room, which was filled with Pocky, Hello Panda, and other assorted snacks, participants could work on drawings and/or their homework. In the living room, South Korean girl group BLACKPINK set the ambience, inspiring some dancing and impromptu singing. Par also remarked that while the Keppel House has office space for the managers of CDI and its employees, it is also in part a social space: “The main floor is for social [events]. We have a study room, living room and then another study room. The basement is more like a hangout space, and there’s storage for our MSO clubs.” Downstairs, participants worked on decorating lanterns and folding paper cranes. Participants also played Pictionary and socialized, all while maintaining social distancing and observing the occupancy limit guidelines.
The Anchor also spoke with Ayanna Bailey (’23), a member of Women of Color United studying neuroscience and psychology. “We tried to incorporate the traditional Chinese Lantern Festival into a cool event with Women of Color United and Asian Student Union.” Bailey shared how the collaboration got started and about how the Lantern Festival changed meaning as the collaboration began: “I got the idea from ‘Tangled,’ so I looked it up and it’s actually a traditional Chinese tradition, so I was like, ‘I can reach out to Asian Student Union and we can do something around that.’ But they also had the decorations from Lunar New Year last week.” Bailey is correct; the floating lights scene in the Disney princess movie “Tangled” is inspired by many lantern festivals around the world, though the Chinese variant likely played a part in the inspiration for the scene. Bailey went on, “We have lantern decorating upstairs and downstairs. We wanted to do sky lanterns, but Hope said it was a fire hazard, so we decided to decorate our own. We have a Kahoot riddle we’re going to do later, because the Chinese Lantern Festival is about riddles, too.” She finished by talking about CDI’s move to the Keppel House: “We officially opened earlier this month. Every day we have a different MSO come in and have a different event or just hang out so people can get to know each other, and it’s been really awesome.” All in all, it was a great event, and noticeably felt similar to, and created a nostalgia of, pre-COVID get-togethers.
With National Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month coming up in May and the recent rise in hate crimes and attacks against Asians in the U.S, this event felt particularly relevant. The student body is grateful to Women of Color United and Asian Student Union for hosting this event.