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Xin Nian Kuai Le!

For Shuyi (Shelly) Hui, a simple colour represents what she misses most about celebrating Spring Festival in her hometown of Xi’an.

“Red is everywhere at home this time of year,” she says. “There are red decorations, spring festival couplets with red paper, red fireworks. Here, I barely see a sign of it. It’s a very big difference for me.” 

Hui was a participant in UTSC’s Green Path program, with fellow management student Wenxin (Jane) Huang and math student Taoran (Michael) Liu. Through Green Path, Chinese students enroll in a summer program to improve English language skills before being admitted to a four-year undergraduate degree program.

All three, like many others, chose to continue their eduation at UTSC.

This is the first time Hui and Huang are celebrating Spring Festival in Canada. Both admit to a homesickness only partially alleviated by Skyping with friends and family back home. “New Year is a time to be with your family,” Huang says. “We have up to 20 people at our house in Chongqing.”

For Liu, who is graduating this year, Canadian celebrations are quieter than those in his hometown of Beijing. “The work of the city stops as people take holidays, but the energy of the city is up. People are on the streets until dawn.”

Over the last four years, Liu has coped with being away for the holidays by joining events with other international students. Last year, he was host for a special New Year dinner held by UTSC’s Green Path for more than 100 students. The Green Path program will be holding the dinner again this year.

Hui and Huang are following his lead. The two are planning special Spring Festival get-togethers with friends between studying for mid-terms.

As well, all plan to usher in the Year of the Snake by taking part in a national tradition. “We have to watch the CCTV Spring Gala; everyone in China does,” says Huang. “Families sit around the table, watch television and maybe make dumplings.”

“It’s good fun,” says Liu. “The show is a few hours with many different acts.”

Hui grins. “I’ll be up at 7 a.m. to watch it over Skype with my mom! I just wish I could set off some firecrackers.”


© University of Toronto Scarborough