With the coronavirus raging in China, students from China are worried about the well-being and safety of their family and friends. Having a Lunar New Year dinner at Webb brought them a small piece of home during a stressful time.
“For Chinese students, especially at this time, we are away from home,” said Ashley Fu (‘20), the president of the Chinese club. “I haven’t celebrated Chinese New Year with my family for four years, and I feel like having some sense of community and family around you is really important.”
The menu featured Three-Cup Chicken, Vegetarian Mapo tofu, fried rice, vegetable dumplings, scallion pancakes, Chinese broccoli, and Tang Yuan ( (filled sesame rice balls in sweet soup)) as the desert. A fan-favorite seemed to be the Mapo Tofu, receiving praise from Ken Rosenfeld, Dean of Student Life, and various students around campus.
“[The community dinner] was honestly really good,” said Aidan Helgeson (‘23). “It was one of the better community dinners we’ve had all year. I’ve never really experienced [Lunar New Year] before so I thought it was really interesting.”
The Lunar New Year dinner is a long-standing tradition at Webb. This year represents the 8th time that Webb has hosted this celebration, and each year, Webb students along with the dining hall staff work to bring the community together in celebration of the new year.
Webb also hosted four WLSA students from Shanghai, China. They arrived during their winter break, which fell during the Lunar New Year celebration. Having this dinner allowed them to have a celebration that they would normally have at home in China.
“The food was good. I’m impressed that an American high school is capable of organizing such a large-scale event to celebrate Lunar New Year,” said Iris Dong, an exchange student from World Leading Schools Association Fudan Academy.
“I think the food is quite delicious, and it was very similar to what I ate in China,” said Fitz Chen, another exchange student. “[The Lunar New Year community dinner] was a really special experience because it was my first time experiencing this kind of environment.”
Students at Webb are always welcome to work with the dining hall in planning special menus for various events and celebrations.
“We definitely have a very open approach where if a student says ‘Hey, we really want to celebrate…can we do that with a community dinner?’ I always say ‘Come talk to me about what you have in mind…’ The problem is a lot of the time, the student has a great idea but doesn’t do the follow-through,” said Mr. Rosenfeld.
Ashley shared her experience working with the dining hall staff.
“The dining hall is working really hard to take advice from everyone,” said Ashley. “They would go to 99 Ranch to get genuine ingredients for you. Don’t be scared of the dining hall staff, they are really nice people. Just work with them and Mr. Rosenfeld.”
The Lunar New Year Community Dinner, a long-standing tradition at Webb, is only made possible with the combined efforts of students and staff. Community dinners are a valuable opportunity for the Webb community to gather, learn, and experience a different culture.