Almost three weeks after the Lunar New Year celebration, I haven’t had much time to reflect back on what is most important to my heritage. On January 28, 2017, like most families of East Asian descent, travel far distances to be with loved ones to enjoy a meal that represents all the good things in life and share what it means to be living in the time that we take for granted. This year, I have had the pleasure of attending a party hosted by IS187’s NIA Afterschool Program for the Year of the Rooster. Backtrack two years ago, when I was a young and utterly super-short sixth grader, the entire NIA was invited to bring their families to enjoy a meal in the gymnasium. To speak in brief, it was a small gathering and the food was simple, but to me, it was more than enough. I met new people there, formed closer bonds with friends I have acquainted with during my hours in NIA, and nothing mattered but the spirit of the new year.

Holding high hopes for the Lunar New Year commemoration this year, I waited for the announcement of the date for the occasion. “January 26, 2017,” it read on my notice. Excited, I planned out every needed detail on my part so that I would expect no disastrous outcome. I texted my long-time friend the day before to inquire if he was going to attend the humble banquet. To my dismay, he stated he was not. I was in a state of despair after that, for the NIA Lunar New Year celebration in 2015 was an important event in the upbringing of our unique friendship in sixth grade. He expressed that he was sorry and that he could not attend due to the fact that the date conflicted with his grandmother’s birthday event. I understood.

Clock peaked 5 on Thursday, parents came in with trays of food and youngsters poured in litters into the gymnasium. I took a breath of optimism and walked in. Astonished were my eyes. Decorations were done the best of one’s ability, but shining star of the place was the variety and numerous dishes that were placed out in a meticulous manner. Families were gathered in great numbers, a lot more than I had anticipated. Flashbacks to NIA Lunar New Year of 2015, everything in front of me was incomparable to the memory I held dear to my heart. My other friend joined me in the feast and the atmosphere was lively with chatter. I texted as I ate, expressing my surroundings to my friends who were not with me at the present. “Someone brought sponge cake! Can you believe that? I would have never imagined one bringing such a treat to NIA,” exuberantly I messaged to my friend who attends I.S.221. I glanced around the room and saw that my NIA teachers were also having a great time.

Time flew by, an hour of cheer gone. People shuffle out with happy bellies and ecstatic minds, debating plans for the morrow. Scarlet decorations compiled and tossed. I stayed to help the NIA staff, who if I might remark on, are some of the most compassionate and unique people that I have met. They exceed their teaching duties to create a fun and memorable atmosphere every moment of the time for all students and form bonds that many teachers would put aside. I am grateful to have shared this evening with the NIA community, surely a memory not to be forgotten. “My my,” I murmured under my breath. “If I were given this chance again, I wouldn’t doubt attending for a second….” My mind trailed off as the B9 pulled up to the curb. Wind slicing through the blaring car horns and chilly air. I boarded the bus and journeyed my way home into the cool, winter night.