The streets of Melbourne are filled with citywide festivities for the Chinese New Year Melbourne Festival, running from 27 January to 12 February 2017. As the Festival’s Principal Partner, Study Melbourne caught up with some of the volunteers to get their insights into the celebrations.
Raymond Lim and Tingting Jin, Head of Videography
What are your roles and responsibilities at the festival this year?
Raymond: I’m originally from Malaysia and living and studying in Melbourne. I decided to get involved in the festival to expand on my videography skills, working to capture all the highlights from the festival.
Tingting: I’m also a leader of videography with Raymond. We’re looking forward to capturing all the festivities of every event which may sound like quite the handful but that’s also the great thing about volunteering at a festival like this. There’s so much culture to soak up, and it’s an incredible opportunity to witness so you want to work hard, keep busy and capture everything you can.
What has been a highlight of the festival for you so far?
Raymond: All the events are all really interesting but for me the New Year celebration was a particular standout. It ran from 3pm – 12pm, which was incredible.
Tingting: The Tai Chi practice every morning, at the ungodly hour of 7.30am, is a great way to get into the Chinese culture and its emphasis on Zen and wellness. For me, Tai Chi is the epitome of Chinese philosophy through its ability to reconnect individuals through movement.
Raymond: There’s a real stigma amongst younger students that Tai Chi is for old people …. but it’s not! Lots of teenagers in China practice Tai Chi – really at any age – so feel free to go there, try it out. It’ll be fun!
Cat Quynh Ho and Bonita Wang, Head of Volunteers
How did you get involved in the festival?
Bonita: I had a great experience with the Study Melbourne choir. After getting an email from the team about the festival, I thought it would be a lot of fun and decided to volunteer and get involved. Quynh and I are working together as Head of Events, encouraging students to join and co-ordinating the volunteer process.
Quynh: Once students register their interest, we become the middle man between them and management, liaising between the two to communicate information.
Bonita: We encourage all students who have the interest and passion in Chinese culture or the festival to get involved. Our student volunteers this year have come from all over the world!
What are some events you’d recommend for visitors?
Quynh: The Cultural Kaleidoscope is a highlight for me. It’s a lovely way to see and sample all the unique traditions from a diverse range of communities.
Bonita: The Dragon Boat Races in Docklands will be hosting a lovely performance, I’d definitely recommend that one.
Danni Truong, Cristina Magbojos and Camilo Mazo, Head of Insights
What brought you to Victoria and how did you get involved in the festival?
Camilo: I moved to Victoria from Colombia to study, there’s a great range of activities and programs for international students which makes it an exciting state to live in.
Dani: I’m here studying digital media. I heard about the Home Away from Home dinner which celebrates the Chinese New Year and thought it would be a great initiative to be involved in.
What are you hoping to gain from this experience?
Cristina: Back home, there is a huge Chinese New Year Festival so helping out this time in a new country is very exciting. Being on the Insights committee, we’re responsible for getting feedback from festival goers about what they think about the event so we can improve it in the years to come.
Camilo: We want to speak with as many people as possible to learn what they enjoyed and what they’d improve so as to create a more engage experience for all in the years to come.
What are some events you’d recommend to festival goers?
Cristina: The Chinese concert at the Plenary is a really nice event for visitors looking to learn about the Chinese culture and see world class performers. The Home Away from Home dinner will also be very interesting and a great way for other international students to meet others in the same boat!
Camilo: The New Year countdown was a highlight for me and something I’d recommend for guests to attend next year. There’s food trucks, dumplings and fireworks.
Vania Januari and Xinyi (Cindy) Wang, Head of Performing Arts
What brought you both to Victoria?
Vania: I came from Indonesia and I’m studying a Masters of Communication at Monash University.
Cindy: I’m from China and I’m studying a Masters of Media at RMIT.
What’s your involvement in the festival?
Vania: We’re part of the performing arts department so we help to coordinate and organise all the performers within the festivals, working with dancers, musician and other performers.
What are looking forward to seeing at this year’s festival?
Cindy: I’m really excited about the cooking demonstrations! I’m assisting in one of the demonstrations so it will be great to see how all the food preparation comes together and tasting all the delicious food!!
Vania: Being a volunteer, I’m really just looking forward to seeing everything and watch it all come together.
Hui Dong (Ruby) and Kurniastuti Lestari (Ayi) and Wen Kai (Tony), Head of Photography
Hui Dong (Ruby) and Kurniastuti Lestari (Ayi) and Wen Kai (Tony), Head of Photography
What attracted you to Victoria?
Ayi: I’m from Indonesia. I’m studying a Masters of Applied Linguistics at Monash University and loving it.
Ruby: I’m studying at Monash University as well. I’ve been in Melbourne for a year now and it’s great to be part of such a multicultural city, especially Monash community – everyone is so welcoming.
Tony: I’ve been in Melbourne for 5 years now and am currently in my final year of my Masters of Engineering at the University of Melbourne.
How did you get involved in the Festival this year?
Ayi: I heard about it from a friend who volunteered last year who recommended it. I thought it would be a great program to be involved in.
Ruby: I always had an interest in photography, I’ve been doing it for 5 years now. Because I’m quite time poor, I found it to be a great outlet and saw the Festival as a perfect way to explore it further.
Tony: I’ve been volunteering for quite a long time, but was never able to volunteer at the Chinese New Year Festival in Melbourne because I’m usually back home with my parents. This year, I decided to stay in Melbourne and saw it as the perfect opportunity volunteer.
What are you most looking forward to?
Ayi: I’m looking forward to learning more about the Chinese culture and meeting people from different countries. I think it will be really interesting.
Ruby: Working with the wide range of artists and performers.
Tony: All the events give me a lot of joy and nostalgia of my home. It’s great to see how it’s celebrated here. I’m really looking forward to seeing how the event is organised and watching all the performances.
Study Melbourne recommends
There's so much to do at the festival it might be hard to choose! Here's a list of some of the most tantalising events.
|Event||Precinct||Date and Time|
|Chinese New Year in Geelong||Pako Festa (part of)||25 January, all day|
|New Year’s Eve Countdown||Queensbridge Square||27 January, 3pm - 12am|
|Chinese New Year at Docklands||Docklands||27 January - 12 February, 12pm - 10pm|
|Chinese New Year at Melbourne Star||Docklands||27 January- 12 February, 11am - 10pm|
|Chinese New Year in Bendigo||Dai Gum San Chinese Precinct|
Golden Dragon Museum
|28 January, 7 – 8pm|
|Hongbao Wishing Wall||Queen Victoria Market||28 January - 5 February, 10am - 3pm|
|Chinese Youth Society of Melbourne: A Tale from the Three Kingdoms.||Chinatown||29 January, 10:45am - 5pm|
|Chemist Warehouse Tai Chi||Queensbridge Square||30 January – 10 February, 7.30am –8.15am|
|Lunar New Year at the Summer Night Market||Queen Victoria Market||1 February , 5pm - 10pm|
|Chinese Acts presented by Plenary at MCEC||Plenary at MCEC||3 February, 7.30pm|
|Dragon Boat 'Come and Try'||Docklands||4 & 5 February , 10am–2pm|
|Home away from Home dinner||Docklands||5 February 2017, 6pm|
|Chinese New Year in Ballarat||Sovereign Hill||5 & 12 February, 10am – 5pm|
|Chinese New Year at Federation Square||Federation Sqaure||28 January, 10am - 5pm|
|Lantern Festival Yuan Xiao Jie||Queen Victoria Market||11 February - 12 February , 9am - 4pm|
The Chinese New Year Melbourne Festival runs from 27 January to 12 February 2017. For more information, please visit http://www.cnymelbourne.com.au/about-the-festival/