WMU to host a free Chinese New Year Gala

Contact: Korey Force
A male student practicing Chinese calligraphy on paper.

A Kalamazoo student practices the Chinese calligraphy he learned from the Confucius Institute at WMU.

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—The Confucius Institute at Western Michigan University will host a New Year's Gala from 3 to 6 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 17, in the Bernhard Center East Ballroom to celebrate the upcoming Year of the Dog in the Kalamazoo community. The event is free and open to the public.

The Chinese New Year, also known as the Spring Festival, is one of the biggest celebrations in China and many Asian countries.

The gala features live entertainment including songs, dances, poetry recitals, martial arts and folk music, all performed by instructors and students in Confucius Institute language programs. These language programs include students from Kalamazoo Central High School, Loy Norrix High School, the Kalamazoo Chinese Academy and Gagie School.

Global engagement is one of the three pillars at WMU, and Dr. Ying Zeng, director of the Confucius Institute, wants the New Year's Gala to show the Kalamazoo and WMU community the local opportunities available to be globally engaged.   

A female performer of a traditional Chinese dance holds out a decorative fan.

The gala will feature live entertainment by Confucius Institute instructors and students.

"The Chinese New Year's Gala and other events that introduce cultures from around the world provide an excellent opportunity for students and community members to discover more about the world around them. It also serves to introduce students and community members to the many opportunities that exist right here in Kalamazoo to learn more about Chinese culture, both abroad and here in Michigan," Zeng said. 

Along with the live entertainment, the gala will include children's games and activities such as a painting contest and the Game of Chopsticks. Traditional dishes including dumplings, springs rolls and sesame rice balls will offer guests a taste of Chinese cuisine.

The Confucius Institute at WMU works to expand international opportunities for students and faculty on WMU's campus and the Kalamazoo community. In addition to the New Year's Gala, it offers Chinese language and cultural studies classes for the local community.


The date for the Chinese New Year fluctuates based on the lunar calendar for each year, this year falling on Feb. 16. Last appearing in 2006, the dog is one of the animals that appears on the 12-year-cycle from the Chinese zodiac. The Earthly branch is associated with the Year of the Dog in Chinese culture.  

The Confucius Institute at WMU 

A nonprofit organization, the Confucius Institute at WMU is designed to bring an authentic Chinese perspective to the University and the Kalamazoo area. It was established in 2009 through a partnership with Beijing Language and Culture University, and is the fourth such institution in Michigan and the 61st founded in the United States.

This on-campus institute is supported with funding from the Hanban that is matched by WMU. In addition, Beijing Language and Culture University annually provides teachers who are trained in teaching Chinese as a foreign language and conducting cultural courses.

To learn more about the Confucius Institute at WMU, visit wmuconfucius.org.

For more WMU news, arts and events, visit wmich.edu/news.