Chinese Culture Night - Courtesy of Aaron Yang CSA Media Director
Chinese Culture Night – Courtesy of Aaron Yang CSA Media Director

The 23rd annual Chinese Culture Night took place Saturday night, April 23 at University Theatre. Hosted by the Chinese Student Association, the event was home to the celebration of Chinese culture that included various acts and an amusing play. 

The night opened with a performance by the UCR Senryu Taiko club that awakened the audience to the exciting night that would ensue. They were then followed by Collective Faction who brightened the theatre with their energetic dance moves. Christine Wouang and Natalie Kong later took the stage and delivered a smooth performance of Adele’s hit song, “All I Ask.” Kathleen Fong, CSA’s president, performed a beautiful traditional Chinese fan dance that opened the floor for CCN’s annual play. 

CCN presented “Grow As We Go,” a heartwarming play that follows the young life of Mia Zhou, played by Brianna Lam, as she struggles to balance her life desires while also trying to listen to her mother’s wishes about the future. 

The play created a relatable vibe around the theater as many of the pressures that Mia faces are what modern students currently experience. Its cheeky performances, humor and realistic atmosphere allowed the play to feel relatable to its audience, a goal that the previous director shared before being welcomed on stage by Mandy Tsai, the current CCN director. Tsai went on to thank her cast, the Stage Ninjas, the production team and most notably her producer Grace Chen, whose hard work made the night possible. Tsai then welcomed Caliah Thong, the previous director of CCN in 2019. Thong was unable to showcase her play in 2019 due to the surge of COVID-19, but Tsai decided to revive Thong’s creativity in the night’s show. 

Thong, a UCR alumni who majored in sociology, was welcomed on stage and explained how she wanted to write about something meaningful that would resonate with a lot of people who were leaving behind their childhoods and were just navigating through a new world. She emphasized how many Asian Americans can relate to this play when they have to make certain decisions while also seeking approval from their parents. 

Thong also said, “CCN is really special because it gives people a creative outlet that allows them to express themselves. We are able to create a family from this and so many memories that people hold onto even after graduating.” 

After a brief 15-minute intermission, Wushu Club showcased its modern form of traditional Chinese kung fu through performative martial arts pieces. When asked how they prepared for the show, Coach Steven Ly, a fourth-year biology major, said that their members would practice two times a week. He goes on to say, “It was a bit difficult with peoples’ schedules, but everyone put their time and effort into Wushu. It was amazing how our general members were able to put their time into practice, especially during the last few weeks before CCN.”

Jungho Moon, a fourth-year biology major and Wushu’s vice president went on to say, “It’s a new experience for most of us since quarantine stopped CNN from happening last year. We’re excited to show off our moves tonight and how we’ve learned together as a whole.” 

When asked about their thoughts on the importance of expressing Chinese culture, fourth-year physics major and Public Relations Officer Megan Samn said, “Aside from our love of Chinese culture, it’s really fun to practice martial arts. Some of us are experienced and some of us are completely new, but this practice disciplines you to keep in form and become dedicated to it. It’s a great feeling whenever I can hit a certain stance because once you reach that point in your practice, it can be really cool.” 

Hallyu UCR brought their dynamic dance moves to the stage, and although there was a mishap during their performance, they were able to still garner appraisal from audience members. Michelle K. Tran and Vincent Leung sang their hearts out in their individual performances before opening the stage to Act 2 of “Grow As We Go.” 

The 23rd Chinese Culture Night ended in a pleasant tone where various artists were given the spotlight to display their pride in Chinese culture. It was an enlightening and spirited event that CSA successfully hosted, and it opened the doorway to future CCNs that are sure to illuminate audiences’ minds.