As people in China celebrate the Chinese New Year with grandiose firework displays that far surpass those of the American Fourth of July, Berkeley will also celebrate with galas and banquets to ring in the year 4712 in the Lunar calendar. Celebration of the Year of the Sheep, which symbolizes peace and harmony, kicks off on February 19, 2015 and will last until March 5, 2016.
On February 13, the Center for Chinese Studies (CCS) will host its annual Lunar New Year banquet, in which faculty and students are invited to enjoy a nine-course meal at a local Chinese restaurant. “Each table will be decorated with a plate of kumquats that symbolize good luck for the New Year,” says Elinor Devine, the CCS Program Director. Guests will receive a red envelope that contains a raffle ticket for a chance to win a range of prizes including cash, gift certificates, and books.
Along with a New Year’s dinner, CCS offers film screenings, public lectures and conferences about China. This semester, students can join the Global China Lecture Series, which features three talks about the Silk Road. CCS also supports graduate students by offering fellowships which allows them to conduct research on topics related to China. Past projects have included a study about China’s struggle to regulate pollution and the use of Western pharmaceutical medicine in Shanghai during the early to mid 20th century.
The CCS Graduate Student Liaison, Jesse Rodenbiker, became involved with the center after working various jobs in China for several years, including at an educational NGO on the border of North Korea. As a second year Ph.D. student in Geography, he focuses on environmental protection projects in China. He chose to come to Berkeley because of the campus’s preeminence in China Studies. At CCS, he acts as a link between graduate students and the Center by arranging colloquiums and networking opportunities.
“The events [CCS] creates brings together geographers, historians, political scientists, climatologists and energy specialists into conversations about important issues,” Rodenbiker says. “It is a galvanizing institution for bridging disciplines across the Berkeley campus.”
As the Student Liason, Rodenbiker is also involved in organizing workshops for graduate students to meet leading scholars in various fields. “The workshops are a chance for students to discuss whatever they feel might be most beneficial to them at the time with an expert,” Rodenbiker adds. Past workshops have included discussions about research methods, finding a job and the publishing process. CCS also recently initiated a network for Chinese visiting scholars to connect and collaborate with graduate students.
The application deadline for the Graduate Fellowships in Chinese Studies is April 1, 2015.