After last year’s cancellation and two postponements this year, it truly was a surreal sight finally seeing the Lantern Festival happen. Students, staff, and other members of the King’s community were treated to a stunning line-up of performances surrounded by the vibrant collection of lanterns and the alluring waft of Asian cuisine.
Amongst the performers were our very own students, Leo Cui (Year 12, Marsden) and Danny Cui (Year 12, Marsden) who performed a dramatic piece on the traditional Chinese drums, and Sammi Shi (Year 11, Taylor), Carl Mu (Year 13, Peart) and Kitty Mu (Year 13, Marion Bruce) who graced the stage with uplifting dances displays. Other demonstrations included a traditional dragon dance, lion dance, Chinese face changing, martial arts and a variety of musical items.
The Lantern Festival marks a significant milestone in an ongoing effort to develop mutual appreciation and understanding of the varied cultures and communities within the College. Traditionally celebrated on the 15th day of the Lunar Calendar, it commemorates the end of the Lunar New Year – one of the most widely celebrated occasions in Asia.
When I was in Year 9, the idea of suggesting such a deliberate and grand recognition of Asian Culture at the College was daunting - it felt like such a farfetched ideal that it could have been scoffed at. Since then it had been a goal of mine to work towards changing this for the better and in my final year as a student, I was given the opportunity to do so through the founding of the Asia Committee.
The Asia Committee is a student-led initiative with the purpose of bridging the gaps between the ethnic sub-communities within the College environment. This is achieved in two ways: through the recognition and representation of Asian culture, and through the education and inclusion of the entire community in this culture.
While many similar groups elsewhere have focused and succeeded in the former, the latter is an equally vital aspect of the process often overlooked. While representation of our Asian community fosters a sense of identity and belonging within its members, the true bridging of cultural divides occurs when an environment is created such that those outside of this sphere are just as much included and encouraged to partake in the culture as those native to it. It dispels any apprehension of interacting with unfamiliar cultures and enables people to express themselves without having to adopt a different persona to 'fit in'.
Hence, the Committee organises events with the primary intention that the entire King’s community leaves with a better sense of understanding and familiarity with Asian culture, regardless of whether or not someone is actually of Asian descent. Scale, grandeur and profit are all secondary in comparison; this was especially so during the Committee’s humble, budget-less beginnings!
The community reception has been remarkable and a motivating validation for the Committee that the work they put in is making a difference. Continuous support from Head of Culture, Ms Emma Featherstone, enthusiastic parents, community members and generous sponsors have since enabled the Committee to continue working towards its founding vision.
With the pandemic meaning many of our international students haven't returned home since the beginning of last year, this ability to share and unify cultures right here at King’s is a much needed and welcome addition now more than ever.
Callum Sng (Marden, 2015-2019)
Marketing & Development Intern