College Station, Texas, February 23, 2007 – Over 1,200 people graced Sbisa Dining Hall on February 20, 2007 at the Chinese New Year Celebration co-organized by the Institute for Pacific Asia (IPA), Dining Services, and the Chinese Students and Scholars Association (CSSA), and sponsored by Wells Fargo Bank. Dr. Tito Guerrero, vice president and associate provost for diversity, Dr. Emily Y. Ashworth, associate vice president for international programs, and Dr. R. Douglas Slack, speaker of faculty senate, joined students, faculty, staff, and their families to share this special celebration. The evening started with a lion and dragon dance performance that spanned all the way from outside the Academic Building to Sbisa. Accompanied with loud drums and gongs, four lions and a dragon from Lee’s Golden Dragon out of Houston danced and performed acrobatics. Chinese tradition holds that the dance was a ceremony to rid evil spirits and summon good luck and prosperity for the year to come. The crowd then walked into the red and gold themed Sbisa Dining Hall to enjoy a wide selection of Chinese food and watched a Tibetan-style dance named “Kangding’s Love” performed by members of CSSA. “What better way to engage students, faculty and other members of the university community in learning about other cultures than to bring them together for a festive occasion involving lots of food and fun,” said Dr. Guerrero. “This event helped to exemplify how a commitment to learning about the culture and the traditions of others can be entertaining as well.” This was the first official event at Texas A&M University to celebrate the Chinese New Year, but plans were already underway for the next year as a result of the success of the event. “We are planning to organize more cultural activities to raise international awareness on campus,” said Dr. Randy Kluver, director of the IPA. “The success of this event is a great encouragement for us.” “Dining Services is very excited to see the overwhelming response from students, faculty and staff,” said Nadeem Siddiqui, executive director of Dining Services. “This is a beautiful beginning of a new tradition at A&M.” We were a bit cautious when planning the menu for this event, and did prepare some American food,” said Gary Arthur, senior executive chef and director of operations of Dining Services. “But looking at the receptive response tonight, we’ll go ahead and plan for an all-Chinese menu for the Year of the Rat.” “As an international student, I’m very encouraged to see the effort the university put to cultivate cultural diversity on campus,” said Yan Zhang, president of CSSA. “CSSA is proud to be a part of this driving force.” This event is also featured in: The Eagle and The Battalion: Dancing in the new year.