For some, January 1st marked the beginning of the New Year, but for millions of others, the New Year did not begin until February 10th. This year, the Chinese New Year was celebrated on February 10th, and for the first time ever, I celebrated it. I mean, I’m a first generation American, and I don’t even celebrate the Persian New Year even though my parents were born in Iran!
As I hopped in the car with my four friends smiling and dressed in red, I opened my purse just to make sure one last time that my camera was indeed there. Check! Now I was finally ready to head to Chinatown for the celebrations. My professor, Dr. Woo, gave us a guided walking tour of Chinatown before letting us split up to watch the parade, shop, and eat. Dr. Woo is a professor of American Studies at USC who teaches various classes on Asian American history, culture, and identity. The class of hers I’m currently taking, History of the Asian American, teaches us to think critically about the intersections of race, gender, and class, while also giving us a solid foundation of Asian American history from 1850 to the present. Throughout the year, we have attended Visions & Voices events and lectures given by visiting professors as well as participated in peer workshops to get a well-rounded view of the life and history of various ethnic minority groups living in the US. Despite this class being an introductory course on the subject, the small class size (12 students) really enabled us to get to know each other well and have active discussions.
But back to the parade! It took place in New Chinatown, located directly north of Downtown Los Angeles, between Dodger Stadium and the Civic Center. New Chinatown was established in an area formerly known as Little Italy in the late 1920’s after the residents of the former Chinatown were evicted to make room for Union Station. The architecture is a blend of American and Chinese. Many of the buildings are brightly colored, and the streets are adorned with beautiful red lamps. The parade in honor of the New Year brought many tourists to the center of Chinatown. One of the local business listed on our walking tour, Sincere Imports, was a store that sold Chinese lanterns, dragons, and special effects. Our classmate, David, told us that his family has owned and operated this store for four generations, since 1938! David took us inside and showed us the different lights and beautiful decorative pieces. After all of that shopping, we made our way to Phoenix Bakery, a spot famous for their traditional Chinese pastries and colossal custom cakes. The strawberry whipped cream cake is unbelievable! It is so light and sweet, honestly a perfect way to usher in a new year. But these cakes are so good that I can come up with tons of excuses to eat the fresh strawberries and whipped cream cake regularly, especially considering the fact that the cakes are reasonably priced. The Chinese New Year, may have been officially termed the Year of the Snake, but for me the New Year could have easily been renamed to Year of the Cake!
This short field trip with my class not only introduced me to a brand new culture, but also brought me closer to my classmates and my professor. Everyone knows that LA is filled with adventure, but how many universities bring adventure to you? College is a dynamic learning process, and I’m glad that I am part of it. Fight on!
This is a link to all the cool events in Chinatown located only 10 minutes from USC! Check it out! There is a Dim Sum Crawl coming up soon, yummy!!