The Chinese Students and Scholars Associations of Brown, Rhode Island School of Design and University of Rhode Island hosted the Spring Festival Gala in the Salomon Center Auditorium Sunday night to celebrate the Year of the Rabbit.
The Gala featured 14 acts from performers including bands, rappers and K-pop dance troupes, in total featuring 50 performers and backstage staff, according to Brown CSSA President Jessica Ji ’24 in an interview translated from Mandarin. About 200 students were in the auditorium, decorated with paper lanterns and Chinese knotting.
“It has been a tradition for Chinese students across Rhode Island to celebrate the Spring Festival together,” said Mandy Liu, a RISD student and a Gala director, in an interview translated from Mandarin.
Liu, who also participated in the production of last year's Gala for the Year of the Tiger, added that this was the first year since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic that the event took place in person.
According to Liu, the 2022 Gala was held online with programs recorded in advance. For the 2021 Year of the Ox Gala, all Ivy League CSSAs collaborated for a virtual Gala, The Herald previously reported.
Last year's Gala brought unique challenges, such as “extensive video clipping,” Liu explained.
This year, URI’s CSSA was tasked with publicizing the event, using the popular Chinese social media app WeChat to advertise the event to students, wrote Huimin Li, head of publicity for URI’s CSSA, in an email to The Herald translated from Mandarin.
According to Ji, students from Brown and RISD encountered other difficulties in organizing this year’s Gala — primarily understaffing.
And because the Spring Festival fell on Jan. 22 this year — two weeks earlier than it typically occurs on the Chinese Lunar Calendar — many Brown performers and staff were not in Providence for rehearsals ahead of time and only had a few days during shopping period to prepare, Ji said.
Still, while organizing the event was challenging, many students who attended the Gala expressed excitement about holding the Gala in person.
“This year’s Gala felt much different than last year’s,” said Syd Chen, a RISD student who sang at the event, in an interview translated from Mandarin. “Performing in person is important because you can feel interactions with the audience and have some impromptu responses on stage.
Koda Li ’26 said that he was happy to spend his first Spring Festival away from home with CSSA.
“I felt really happy to have spent the holiday here,” Li said in an interview translated from Mandarin, noting that his favorite performance was a cover of the song "Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now."
"I like the song a lot, and the performers were really talented," Li said.
Raul Shui ’25 watched the Gala online last year and was glad to attend the in-person event, he said in an interview translated from Mandarin.
“It feels really different when you can hear the reactions of a live audience instead of computer-generated applause,” Shui said.
“It also feels like I am home when watching the crosstalk comedy,” he added in reference to a popular performance style in China.
Michael Ling ’25 first celebrated the Spring Festival in China during winter break, he said in an interview translated from Mandarin. When he returned to Providence, he celebrated the holiday again with his friends at the Gala.
“I was very lucky to spend the Spring Festival with my family this year,” he said. “As an international student, I spent several Spring Festivals away from home. These experiences taught me to value more about this holiday and the people around me.”
“The Spring Festival is irreplaceable to our culture,” Li wrote. “I miss the lively, festive atmosphere in China. We were trying to create a similar vibe here in Rhode Island for the community.”
Harry is a staff writer for The Brown Daily Herald. Harry is a sophomore from Beijing, China majoring in ceramics at RISD.