Ophelia He, Staff Photographer

Welcoming the Year of the Rabbit, over 100 New Haveners and Yale community members alike visited the Office of International Students & Scholars on Saturday for an afternoon of open mic performances. 

The event, which lasted from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., was hosted by the Yale-China Association and OISS and sponsored by the Long Wharf Theater. The open mic featured Yale student groups, including Yale’s official Asian and Asian American spoken word group Jook Songs. Several local artists in New Haven joined the performance as well.

The Lunar New Year marks the beginning of the lunar calendar year, and is a very important holiday in many Asian cultures. Saturday’s open mic took place as part of the 11th annual Lunarfest celebration in New Haven. 

“This was the first time we had really done an official collaboration with Long Wharf Theater, and I’m thrilled with how the turnout was,” said Molly Hampton, the associate director of engagement for OISS. “We have a great relationship with Yale-China, I think we’ll continue this collaboration, and hopefully, this type of event will be bigger and better next year.”

Hampton said that OISS has a longstanding partnership with the Yale-China Association and has hosted multiple Lunarfest events in the past.

Sebastian Chang ’23 performed a rap song, “From a Rooftop in Chinatown,” which had lyrics that addressed anti-Blackness in the Asian community, at the open mic. Chang said it was wonderful to see both Black and Asian cultures represented at the event. 

Several local independent Black artists participated in the event as well, including Sun Queen. Queen is a poet, an organizer for social and racial justice and a co-founder of Black Lives Matter New Haven. Sun Queen spoke about the importance of the Lunar New Year in terms of celebrating peace, love, freedom and prosperity. 

“This event was amazingly put together, and I’m grateful to have been invited here,” Queen said. “I’m grateful for the Chinese New Year because it does give you time with your reflections, your manifestations, whatever your goals are, to just learn about yourself … and also how you show up more effectively, more gracefully, and community. ”

She added that the new year is an important chance for people to stop and take time to learn about where they are from, who they are and what they want.

“It’s wonderful that people come here from different backgrounds to share their stories,” said Wenshi Wang, and attendee at the open mic who is from China.

Wang said she was excited to see people from different cultures celebrate the event together. 

“It was the first time that we participated in this type of Chinese fest, and it was amazing for me,” said Mansour Toorani, a New Haven resident from Iran who participated in the event. “I wasn’t familiar with this at first.”

Toorani added that this is his first year living in the United States and hopes to get familiar with other cultures.

The event was the first in-person Lunarfest celebration that OISS has hosted since the pandemic. 

“It’s been really lovely to see this come back in person,” Hampton said. 

Long Wharf Theater is a local New Haven theater established in 1965. 

Ophelia He is a reporter of city and arts desk, covering Arts, Theaters, and Museums in Yale and in New Haven. Originally from Shenzhen, China, she is a freshman from Stiles majoring in History of Art and Cognitive Science.