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The Year of the Water Dragon

Semester at Sea rang in the Year of the Dragon last night with a Lunar New Year celebration. Faculty, staff, students, and families packed into Classroom 5 to attend a presentation completely organized by students on board, many of whom just met a few days ago.

Yunshu Fan, a student at Zhejiang University and one of 8 Presidential Scholars on board, organized the student event as part of her scholarship plan. Fan knew she’d be presenting on Lunar New Year within the first weeks of the voyage and came prepared with a stockpile of supplies, including red envelopes, ink, and brushes. Other students who got involved much later were still able to contribute decorations, successfully negotiating for two red Chinese lanterns from a local Chinese restaurant in Roseau, Dominica.

11 Chinese, Taiwanese, and Chinese-American students worked together to organize the event, including a mix of presentations and hands-on crafts. The content ranged from holiday cuisine (FUN FACT: eating long noodles at New Years will lead to a long life) to traditional folklore. Yen Fong of Chapman University shared the story of Nian, an ancient sea-beast known for surfacing from the ocean to attack people during the Lunar New Year. According to legend, Nian is scared of firecrackers and the color red, hence the prevalence of both at current Lunar New Year celebrations. As of today, there have been no sightings of Nian out here in the Atlantic Ocean.

The zodiac calendar operates on 12-year cycles, so congratulations to our 72-year-old Life Long Learners and the 12-year-old children of faculty on board. The dragon is the most auspicious animal on the calendar, so you’ll have even more reason to celebrate when the MV Explorer sails into Shanghai and Hong Kong in April. In a bonus stroke of fortune, the elemental calendar operates on a 60-year-cycle, meaning this is the first year of the “water dragon” since 1952–11 years before the first Semester at Sea voyage even set sail! Gong Xi Fa Cai!

Photo Credit: Chen ChongPhoto Credit: Chen Chong

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