Monday, April 19News For London

Festival Volunteers: Unsung Heroes Bring Colour to Chinese New Year

Meet the backbones of Chinese New Year Celebrations, without whom the festival would not be possible. By Qiwei Wang, subeditor Tara Mearsheimer.

volunteers at morning briefings/ Qiwei Wang
volunteers at morning briefings/ Qiwei Wang

 

They come from all walks of life and they decide to celebrate the New Year Festival in a unique way— by becoming part of it. From providing information to the visitors, to supporting the operations at backstage, more than a hundred volunteers joined the big army of people celebrating the Chinese New Year.

It’s not just their bright-colored uniforms that distinguish them from the crowds that gathered at Trafalgar Square. It’s also their passion to contribute and eagerness to help.

 

volunteers hanging Chinese knots/ Qiwei Wang
volunteers hanging Chinese knots/ Qiwei Wang

 

In order to make the festival go smoothly, these volunteers had to make a sacrifice. They arrived before anyone else at the spot when the square was still empty. After the final preparations, they needed to ensure every performer had a lunchbox before finally grabbing a quick meal for themselves. And when the grand show eventually started, with all the audience gathering around the stage and cheering, they were either at backstage or at information stands.

“I think it’s an unforgettable experience for me to spend Chinese New Year here in the UK,” says Yun Lin, 23-year-old university student, who is a volunteer translator during the day. “It’s my first time not celebrating it with my family back in China, but I don’t feel lonely because there is a community of Chinese people here and I have made my contribution on this special day.”

 

volunteers preparing snacks at backstage/Qiwei Wang
volunteers preparing snacks at backstage/Qiwei Wang

 

Although a large part of the volunteers are Chinese, there are people who come from different cultural backgrounds as well. Celicial Adetunji from Rochester in Kent is a backstage assistant today, and she came to London especially for this event.

“It’s such a great opportunity to get first hand information of the Chinese culture,” she says while busy taking the chairs to backstage. “I enjoy working with my Chinese colleagues and I have an insight into how the show operates today. I even got pocket money from Cai Shen, [the god of prosperity worshipped in Chinese culture] in the afternoon!”

 

the crowds in Trafalgar Square/Qiwei Wang
the crowds in Trafalgar Square/Qiwei Wang

 

“You can feel such an integration of cultures,” says Marco Leung, university student from Sydney and came to London last year, “we also have celebrations at China Town in Sydney, but the atmosphere here is quite different and I saw so many international friends come here today. ” As a press assistant, he said he was excited to accompany so many VIPs to the press area.

“London’s celebrations are the biggest outside China,” says Joseph Wu, Deputy Festival Director of this year’s event, “we couldn’t have made it possible without the help from these volunteers. Together with organisers and performers, we bring out the best of Chinese culture.”

To get a taste of Chinese culture and how it influences the UK, listen to this done by Qiwei Wang:

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