This year, it is estimated that 3.6 billion people will make journeys home for what is known as 春节, the Spring Festival, Chūnyùn, or perhaps more clearly: Chinese New Year. In 2014, New Year’s Eve landed on Thursday night, January 30. The IES dorm-dwelling students were lucky enough to join host families in celebrating. Perry’s host mother cooked an array of traditional Chinese foods, including garlic and eggplant, stir-fried potato slivers, boiled mushrooms, steamed fish, and my personal favorite: jiǎozi dumplings. (We were very thankful for the wealth of food. During Chinese New Year, nearly all restaurants close down so that the owners and employees may make their respective trips home.) Afterwards, we watched CCTV’s annual New Year broadcast and snacked on Chinese New Year treats like walnuts, peanuts, oranges, and hard candies in red (lucky!) wrappers. As the clock struck midnight, Beijing erupted in firecrackers. It is hard to describe exactly what happens to the capital city during Chinese New Year; it’s like being in a very colorful warzone. Included below is my attempt at capturing on film those first few moments of mania in Beijing!
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<p><span style="color: rgb(29, 29, 29); font-family: Arial, Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal; background-color: rgb(237, 237, 237);">Hi! My name is Alexa Penton and I'm an undergrad at the University of Mississippi pursuing degrees in Chinese Language and Culture and Art History. I started photography as a hobby in high school, and have since expanded my collection to 10 film cameras and one digital. Most of my photos and videos document my travels at home and abroad. I am particularly inspired by the qualities of light, memories, natural history, nontraditional developing practices, and nontraditional portraiture. I call Orlando, Florida home, but can't wait to spend a whole semester living and learning in Beijing!</span></p>