James Mellor

It’s 2006, which means it’s time to bring in the Year of the Dog.

Cal Poly’s Chinese Student Association will celebrate its 49th annual Chinese New Year banquet this Saturday.

At 6 p.m. in the Chumash Auditorium, the CSA will bring in the Year of the Dog with a traditional seven-course Chinese meal and live entertainment provided by the Cal Poly Lion Dance Team, the Ribbon Dance Team and the Umbrella Dance Team. There will also be a special performance by the Wu Shu Tai Chi center.

The event is open to all Cal Poly students and the San Luis Obispo community.

“We have a display of what Chinese culture is all about for that event, and bringing in the new year with good food and good entertainment,” said Christopher Ho, president of CSA.

Discover his own culture is something Ho has been trying to figure out since he has been at Cal Poly.

“It’s hard to (describe one’s culture),” Ho said. “Yes, we take off our shoes when we go into a house, we eat food with chopsticks, we eat rice during dinner time instead of rolls- it has to do a lot with family. Going back to tradition, there is a great bond between parents and their children.”

“My own parents gave up everything to put my brothers and I through college,” Ho added as he described his own experience growing up as a Chinese-American. “It’s just the sacrifice Chinese families have for themselves. They look out for their own, we look out for our people within our family.”

Since Chinese families do a lot for each other, “A lot is expected of us in return,” he continued. “It’s an obligation we have to fulfill for our parents.”

Being at a university and earning a degree is part of the role Chinese students are expected to undertake, Ho said.

“Education is always stressed,” he said. “A lot of Chinese parents put a lot of emphasis and stress to do well . . . our means to make ourselves better is through an education, and that’s what a lot of people are here for, not necessarily Chinese-Americans.”

A strong orientation toward family is something the president of Lambda Phi Epsilon, Vincent Kwong, also mentioned about Chinese culture. Kwong said his fraternity leaves that weekend open so Chinese members can go home to visit family.

“In our fraternity, over 60 percent of our guys are Chinese,” Kwong said. “A lot of them are second-generation and we let them go home to celebrate with their family.”

The Chinese Student Alliance started at Cal Poly in the 1920s as a transitory support group for first-generation Chinese immigrants. The original intent of the club was to carry on the Chinese traditions the students were born with. In 1959 the club was formally inducted at Cal Poly as the Poly Chi Club.

Today, the CSA is composed of 50 members and serves as a way for second- and third-generation Chinese students to discover their original culture.

“We’re trying to figure out what our culture is,” Ho said. “We’ll have a vibrant display of lion dance, river dance, umbrella dance and martial arts that’s deeply engrained into our traditional background.”

Club members, Ho said, are trying to figure out where their culture is headed.

“As we become more assimilated into the American culture, we lose a sense of what our traditions are, but in that sense we also break those barriers and form our new culture.”

People can still join the CSA, which meets every other Tuesday at 8 p.m. in building 53 room 202.

To get tickets for Saturday’s event, “Longevity Lotus,” call (805) 543-4021, or e-mail csatickets@hotmail.com. Tickets are also available at Imperial China Restaurant on 667 Marsh St., Friday 5-7 p.m. and Saturday 4-7 p.m. The price for admission is $16.

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