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WI Lt. Governor Weighs In on diversity and inclusivity during 2021 Chinese New Year

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chinese new year

WAUSAU, Wis. (WAOW) -- Joy Clendenning, a Weston based Chinese teacher and coordinator for central Wisconsin's annual Chinese New Year Festival, describes Chinese New Year or the Lunar New Year as the most important celebration in the Chinese calendar.

Clendenning also provides perspective by describing it as a holiday like Christmas and the way it's celebrated by Americans.

Once a year it's a time where some of the best meals are prepared, families that haven't seen each other in awhile are able to get together, and the word "celebration" is an understatement.

Since the annual festival was canceled due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Clendenning is finding other ways to spread her heritage to Wisconsinites.

She's now teaching virtual Chinese classes nationwide and here in the Badger state, so she decided to have virtual celebrations with the dozens of students she teaches through presentations.

Students presented original Chinese drawings, poems, songs, and other traditional cultural pieces.

Chinese New Year last year was January 25," Clendenning said. "Each year it is on a different date. The date is based on the Lunar calendar."

Some of the usual traditions also include the older generation giving younger family members red envelopes with money.

2021 is the year of the Ox, and every year an animal aligned with the zodiac represents a full calendar year. There's a 12 animal rotation.

During the 2020 festival, Wisconsin's Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes made a trip to central Wisconsin and he was able to get in on the festivities.

Aside from making his own dumplings, he was able to take away an experience everyone should consider, and that's learning about other cultures, especially ones represented across the state.

Lt. Gov. Barnes said opening up to other cultures and traditions contribute to personal growth and an overall better understanding outside of our own unique experiences.

"The lack of cultural understanding can lead to very unfortunate outcomes," Lt. Gov. Barnes said. "Sometimes that could be violence, that could be discrimination, and right now we need to make sure that we're promoting as much inclusivity and as much cultural understanding as possible, so that we can all live together."

To learn more about the Chinese culture, New Year and traditions associated with it contact Joy Clendenning here.

Rashad Williams

News 9 Reporter

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