The student news site of Adlai E. Stevenson High School


The student news site of Adlai E. Stevenson High School


The student news site of Adlai E. Stevenson High School


A Love Letter to Chinese Food

Stevenson students, clubs prepare for annual Chinese New Year celebration
A Love Letter to Chinese Food

On Friday Feb. 2, Chinese Club, Taiwanese Club, and National Chinese Honor Society (NCHS) will be co-hosting a Chinese New Year celebration from 6-9 p.m. in room 2104. With over 300 people in attendance at last year’s celebration, some of whom came from as far as Naperville, it is one of the biggest annual events hosted by the clubs.

This year, the clubs received $800 from Stevenson to purchase supplies for cultural games and activities for children and food that volunteers will prepare in the food lab. Additional food will also be brought in potluck-style by the community.

“There is a huge population of Chinese Americans and Southeast Asian Americans in this area now,” Tianzhou Ye, NCHS and Chinese Club co-sponsor said. “We have a common home culture that we want to celebrate and then share with people from the outside of our cultural community too.”

Cognizant of how the event has grown, Stevenson made the celebration this year an official event, according to Ye. Compared to it regarding it as a club event in past years, Stevenson assigned faculty to supervise the event and listed it on the district calendar.

Deborah Lee ’25, a member of Chinese Club and NCHS, has volunteered each year for the event as she also finds sharing her culture with the rest of the Stevenson community to be an exciting opportunity. Lee’s role this year is as one of the 20 chefs who will be preparing noodles, milk tea, and dumplings in the food lab. 

In total, there were 85 volunteer spots filled, even as more hoped to participate. Other volunteer roles will include food servers, ticketers to give out “passports” for children to get stamped at the activity stations, and station volunteers running the cultural activities like paper lantern making and Chinese calligraphy.

“Most of the people who show up to Chinese Club and NCHS events are Chinese or have some East Asian descent,” Lee said. “But then with the Chinese New Year event, I’ve noticed that people of all races around the school and community as well come, try our food, and discover that they like it, which I find really cool.”

Krishna (Kris) Patel ’27, who is Indian American, first experienced Chinese New Year by having dinner with the families of her Chinese American friends, where she tried foods like wontons and xiao long baos, which are soup-filled dumplings from Shanghai. Patel is also volunteering at Stevenson’s celebration this year, in large part because of how much she enjoyed experiencing the past celebrations.

“I really like the culture that’s behind the Lunar New Year—and the food,” Patel said. “I also find that a lot of

Students work with parent volunteers to label the dishes at last year’s Chinese New Year celebration. The food is a highlight of the Chinese New Year Celebration every year, and the one last year featured many dishes of food such as spring rolls, dumplings, sushi, string beans, and noodles.

my friends are there and wanted to spend time with them.”

The food is also Lee’s favorite part of her culture and a large aspect of many Chinese celebrations. Similarly, Ye pointed at a tradition in China to eat glutinous rice balls with sweet fillings, known as tangyuan, as her favorite part of Chinese New Year. 

This emphasis on food is also present in Stevenson’s Chinese New Year celebration, in which one of the highlights is the 20-30 plates of complimentary Chinese food. Ye, who also teaches Chinese, agrees that compared to learning about culture solely in a traditional classroom, events such as these are a more engaging and, therefore, memorable way to expose students to culture.

“It’s definitely more hands-on,” Ye said. “You can kind of take on a role as a teacher when you’re doing cultural events like that. I think it’s a cool complement when you’re learning something in the classroom and then you apply it in an event you help run.”

While students learn about traditional Chinese customs and traditions, some also learn about the Chinese community in and around Stevenson. For Lee, the celebration allowed her to better comprehend the size of the local Chinese American community.

“I had no clue Stevenson’s Chinese population was this large,” Lee said. “Like, you know it, but you don’t fully grasp how large it is until you see it for yourself. It’s different from before high school, where our Chinese population was kind of on the smaller side.”

The Chinese New Year celebration aims to unite the local Sino-diasporic community and allow all Stevenson students to engage with both their own and other cultures. Patel reflected on how she enjoys living in a diverse environment because she gets to learn about many different cultures.

“Every day, I get to learn more and more about other people and where they come from,” Patel said. “I think that’s really eye opening.”

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