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Groningen Chinese win Snake Prize

Not every culture celebrates New Year’s Day on the same day. While people in western countries say goodbye to the year and welcome the new one on December 31, the Chinese celebrate the new year in February. On 10 February, millions of people all over the world gathered together to celebrate the Chinese New Year. This year The Chinese people in the Netherlands had the opportunity to celebrate Ney Year’s Day in a grand way: the Spring Festival Gala for the Chinese Year of the Snake. The event took place in Rotterdam, with Chinese students associations from every part of the country. The city of Groningen was well represented by the Association of Chinese Students and Scholars of Groningen (ACSSG). ‘We gave four performances in total for this celebration. In one of them Yin Pei, a student from the Institute of Communication and Media, sang Make you feel my love, by Adele. We also had eight actors from IBS’, says ACSSG-president Meng Zhao (25).

Like in a contest, all twenty associations attending offered a show to the public. Theatre, dance, music… Everything was possible in order to amuse the people and win a prize of 300 Euros in cash. And Groningen didn’t let anybody down. The ACSSG impressed the audience so much that they won the prize. Meng Zhao, who studies Economics at the University of Groningen (RUG), cannot stop praising her guys: ‘It means a lot to us. We spent one week to prepare the act. The actors had classes in the daytime and every day we rehearsed after our lectures. Sometimes we didn’t even have time to eat! On the day of the show we got up at four in the morning and took the train at five. None of the actors had any complaints and we paid for a lot of things in order to make our performance go well. I am proud of them. The prize shows that our hard work is deserved.’

Performing Chinese shows can be a real challenge. While in their country, Chinese people can easily find materials and stuff to offer a performance that is faithful to tradition, in western countries this task may be pretty arduous. ‘The hardest thing was finding the ancient costumes and borrow them. We made use of our large social network, and contacted lots of people. Finally we got our costumes just one day before the performance.’ However, the work was worth it and in the end Meng Zhao and the complete ACSSG-crew of ten students were compensated for their efforts. ‘Our act was different from the other performances. We did some very creative things. In our short act, boys for instance, were dressed up like girls. That attracted lots of people and they all wanted to have their picture taken with us.’






Groningen hosts six hundred Chinese students who had the chance to warmly welcome the Year of the Snake and offer a sweet farewell to the Dragon, who dominated 2012 with elegance and power. ‘We have twelve animals to characterize the years: rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, dog, monkey, rooster and pig. Therefore we have cycles of twelve years. If you are born with a specific animal, every year of that animal will bring you good luck’, says Meng Zhao. This year ACSSG have a lot more to celebrate than just the new year. They have showed the rest of the Netherlands who they are. Kudos, guys! Keep up the good work!