Gong Xi Fa Cai, pronounced “Gong Hey Fat Choy” in Cantonese, means Happy New Year. It’s a phrase that I learned early on as a small child. One of the very few and most important phrases my mother taught me in her maiden language. She’s from Hong Kong and even though she’s been in the states for over 40 years, Chinese New Year is still the most important celebration for my family, it even trumps Christmas and Easter!
This is not surprising though as China considers this their most important holiday. In fact, it’s also the longest holiday spanning 15 days total! Every year is celebrated on a different day since the holiday is based on the ancient lunar calendar, which translates to sometime between January and February. The tradition started as early as the 14th century B.C. and is still celebrated traditionally today even though China adopted the western calendar. This year is the year of the sheep although you may hear it being called goat or ram as well. Since the Chinese language has so many different translations all are used depending on the region you are in.
My family observes several traditions and superstitions which are both hilarious and heartwarming. These tend to include a very large dinner with only very close friends and family, not washing your hair, cleaning before the New Year, and sleeping with money under your pillow. My mother will cook traditional dishes including a whole steamed fish, shrimps & scallops, bok choy, sea moss, black mushrooms and other favorites. The significance in these dishes range from long life to prosperity for the new year. Lucky money is given to all the children for luck and good fortune. The money is placed in highly decorated red envelopes and then given on both the eve and day of the New Year. We place the envelopes under our pillow and open them the next day. I still look forward to my envelope every year!
If you get the opportunity, wish someone a Happy New Year. It is such an important event to Asians and has so much meaning and tradition associated with it that I’m sure you’ll get a smile in return!!
This week was extremely difficult for me. I woke up Monday morning with a sore throat. Tuesday and Wednesday I stayed home with what I presumed was the flu. When I returned to work on Thursday, it was to find our office in crisis mode due to a water leak and seven rooms worth of classes needing to be relocated.
I have to admit that I was feeling disgruntled to have such a disruption and abundance of work dropped on me when I myself was just trying to survive the day and not keel over from being sick. Nobody likes walking into an emergency, especially when they feel like they’re dying inside. However, as the hours passed and the day was ending I felt a sense of accomplishment. I was reminded that every day I’m here I’m making a difference in a student’s life. Whether it’s on the forefront or behind the scenes, we make a difference to students.
When I applied to MCCCD it was because I wanted to be in education, not because I wanted “a job”. I wanted to help students achieve a sense of fulfillment in obtaining their educational goals. I may not be in front of them during classes, heck I’m not even in front of them during the registration process, but I know that I’m making a difference in their success.
So I guess my story is for those of you who are feeling “not as motivated” as usual, for those of us who are feeling a little down or disgruntled even. Just remember that we’re here to make a difference and that everything we do should be done with pride, joy, and self-satisfaction because what we do matters. It matters to the students who are out there making an effort to better themselves.
Student Success is a frequent topic and a constant influence in higher education. It has a multitude of meanings stemming from a student’s idea of what makes them successful to administration gauging the rates of graduates from year to year. But what does Student Success mean to me or other staff members who are not involved in the decision making process and do not have frequent or direct interactions with students? How can you be a part of making students successful? For me it’s going the extra mile to help others when needed. Whether it’s helping someone navigate through our system over the phone or offering training sessions to other employees. Going that extra mile to assist someone promotes student success without directly interacting with students. GCC’s success is dependent on its members and if we can’t take the time to help each other when needed, then how can we be there for our students. Success can be contagious if only we can learn to share.