Monday, February 3, 2014

春节快乐,布宜诺斯艾利斯!Chūnjié kuàilè, bù yi nuò sī ài lì sī!

In the heart of Buenos Aires almost 12,000 miles from Taiwan and China, there is a community brought together by language and culture. Many of Argentina's 30,000 Chinese have migrated from Taiwan and Fujian Province to seek economic opportunities. A migration accord was signed between the two countries in 2003 and since then the community has grown. So has the Chinese new year, or Spring Festival.

The phrase above means, "Happy Spring Festival, Buenos Aires!" I thought it was really funny when I tried to say Buenos Aires in Chinese. Sometimes the phonetic translations just end up sounding really goofy. It's also interesting to see Chinese people speaking in Spanish. The accent remains distinct, but in general they really had a solid grip of the language. Anyways, I decided to go to Chinatown to celebrate, eat some food, and meet people to practice my quickly dying language skills. Fortunately, I only had to walk 3 blocks from my apartment to get there.

Dragon followed by a band
City of Buenos Aires preparing for Chinese food
The celebration is going to be difficult to describe... A park was closed off as well as many streets with people everywhere. A large stage was in the middle of the park and throughout the night there were a variety of performances. It started with Chinese opera, followed by some outstanding Tango music and dance. After that there was a bizarre cereal mascot that reminded me of Tony the Tiger. He sang some songs and did dances that the children seemed familiar with. By the enthusiasm of the five year olds, I would say he killed it.  They then had some German dancers and Irish dancing. The dancers were shown up by the martial artists and TaiChi practitioners, who leap about the stage as if defying gravity swinging swords, spears, and fists. The final act of the night was a Chinese pop star who sang to loud bassy club music. Overall the experience was really culturally fulfilling. Barrio Chino really made an effort to demonstrate that their holiday celebration was meant to be shared with everyone. The crowd included all ages and many nationalities. The Year of the Horse was inaugurated with traditional Chinese fireworks and a "good luck" to everyone.

Despite distance, stress, and a good deal of prejudice a strong Chinese culture is alive and well in Buenos Aires. I feel very grateful to be in this city and to have been able to celebrate Chinese New Year in such a unique way. Many students decided to watch the Superbowl instead of facing the uncertainty of what the holiday was and if it was going to be "cool" or not. In the words of the wise Jeff Haubenreich, "Take a healthy risk." It is a lesson that has never failed.

Happy New Year everyone!

The only people awake on Sunday morning
The most important photo on this blog.

To find more info check out this video by CCTV:
P.S. Sorry about the lack of photos of the actual celebration. People have been getting their phones stolen. I also tend to abuse the power of the camera and end up spending the night through the lens of a camera. If you wanna see it, GO THERE!!

1 comment:

  1. Great note, Dan. We love hearing about your adventures.