Handmade Lanterns to Seniors for Chinese New Year | Teen Ink

Handmade Lanterns to Seniors for Chinese New Year

March 25, 2022
By grantwang9 BRONZE, East Amherst, New York
grantwang9 BRONZE, East Amherst, New York
3 articles 0 photos 0 comments

“Happy Chinese New Year!” Applause was coming out of the senior center clubhouse, where a group of Chinese seniors routinely take English classes. AYLUS Williamsville, a youth volunteer organization, was sending their handcrafted paper lanterns along with their best wishes to the seniors in celebration of the Chinese New Year.  Although it is freezing outside, all the seniors’ hearts were warmed by this gesture.

It brought me so much joy to see how elated and thankful the seniors were upon receiving these lanterns. There were hugs all around the room, and some of them were even in tears. “What a happy surprise! It feels as if I am back in China for the holiday,” a grandma said in Mandarin. She reminds me of my own grandma who I used to spend a lot of joyful moments with but now have to see only in dreams. Many of these seniors don’t know how to speak English, so I can imagine that at times, they may feel lonely and isolated in the United States. On top of that, due to the pandemic, the seniors are unable to visit their home country and are extremely stressed by the elevated death rate in seniors. 

Chinese New Year is the most important holiday in Chinese culture, just like Christmas for many in western culture. When I realized Chinese New Year was on the horizon, I really wanted to do something special with my AYLUS group. Making lanterns for seniors immediately jumped to my mind, as elders receive the utmost respect in Confucius tradition, and lanterns are a huge part of Chinese culture. In ancient Chinese civilization, lanterns were an element of worship and were also commonly used as lighting. But today, they symbolize happiness and prosperity and are an extremely common Chinese decoration. Since the seniors grew up in China, they would surely appreciate such decorations in their house when celebrating the New Year. 

The principal few steps of most lanterns included cutting numerous lines in red paper, folding the edges, and joining the two ends of the paper to give the lantern its circular-like shape. However, aside from these steps, many of the lanterns were created differently, with distinct decorations, added parts, and vibrant colors. The crafters paid incredible attention to each and every lantern. Each is telling its own story. In total, more than 50 lanterns were crafted by ten artists of AYLUS Williamsville.

Founded during the onset of the pandemic, AYLUS Williamsville has gathered their loving hearts and helping hands to host hundreds of volunteer events that bring pleasure and happiness to the community. Such gracious activities will never end. 

The author's comments:

Hi! I'm Grant, a sophomore at Williamsville East High School in Buffalo, NY. In May 2020, I founded AYLUS Williamsville, a youth volunteer organization (aylus.org/williamsville-ny/) to help people in the community during the pandemic. Asian hate has been an issue recently. As an Asian American, I feel obligated to promote diversity and prevent bias. I hope this article will help to serve that purpose.  

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