• We had a great round of Morning Musters last week. To summarize:

    Wednesday: Ms. Chang and several Chinese language students spoke to the school about the history and traditions behind Lunar New Year. We had a fantastic three-day celebration of Lunar New Year, so stay tuned to the blog for an update with plenty of photos.

    Thursday: An East-West dance team performed for the whole school! The auditorium was packed with people spilling out of the entrances.

    Friday: I gave a presentation about AmeriCorps, the national service program that I spoke about in my introduction post. There is now an AmeriCorps resources page on the East-West website. You can also find more information at .

  • The Year of the Rabbit
    February 3, 2011

    On February 3, many people throughout the world will celebrate the beginning of the Lunar New Year, the Year of the Rabbit. The Lunar New Year is celebrated as a public holiday in a number of countries and territories including Mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, Indonesia, Korea, and Vietnam. Students in many of these countries and regions enjoy their winter break at this time as they celebrate the festival.

    Xin Nian Kuai Le!” In the Chinese speaking regions, it is customary for adults to give children a red envelope with money. The red envelopes have many sayings such as, "Blooming flowers bring good fortune," and "Your wish will come true." One particularly popular saying for children is, "May you have great academic performance!"

    The New Year's greeting in Korean is, “Se-hae-bok-mahn-ee-baht-eu-se-yo!” It means, “May you receive abundant New Year’s blessings.” In Korea, family members dress in traditional Korean costume, “hanbok”, on New Year’s Day and greet their elders with “se-bae” (a formal bow of respect). From young to old, they wish each other many blessings, health and long life.

    In the United States, many local activities take place across the country to celebrate the Lunar New Year. These activities include cultural festivals, parades, firework displays, tea ceremonies and performances. Many schools with Asian populations in New York hold celebratory activities.

    Here are some tips for the traditional dos and don'ts:

    * Do pay all your debts before the New Year.

    * Do wear new clothes in bright colors, especially red.

    * Do clean the entire house before New Year's Day.

    * Don't sweep for three days.

    * Don't use knives and scissors.

    * Don't cry.


    NYC Lunar New Year parade information:

    Chinatown: 11:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m., Sunday, February 6, Canal Street South

    Flushing: 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m., Saturday, February 12, Union Street and 39th Ave


    Information courtesy of  the Asian Languages BETAC at NYU Metro Center

  • Sounds of Korea

    East-West is looking for trip chaperones for our field trips. This is a volunteer position. Recently, the required ratio of students to adults changed from ten students per adult to six to one. We are short-staffed and in great need of community volunteers for our scheduled field trips.

    Volunteers must be available during school hours, 9 am to 3 pm, and be willing to accompany primarily high school students. After passing the screening process, you would be placed on an "on-call list" and informed of chaperone opportunities as they come up.

    Please contact our trip coordinator, Ms. Hartong, if you are a community member who would like to volunteer. Her email address is .

    We have an urgent need for volunteers this upcoming Monday 1/31 for a 6th grade field trip to see the "Sounds of Korea" performance at the Flushing Town Hall at 9 am. Contact Ms. Hartong right away if you are interested.

  • Coach John Wooden:

    "Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.

    "Be prepared and be honest."

    John Wooden won 10 national championships as coach of the U.C.L.A. Bruins, and is considered one of the greatest coaches in college basketball history.

  • Michelle Obama gives keynote speech

    On January 19, 2011, students, teachers, and school leaders from 21 schools in Asia Society’s Confucius Classrooms Network traveled to Washington, DC to attend an event with First Lady Michelle Obama, where she underscored the Obama administration's commitment to the “100,000 Strong Initiative.

    As a Confucius Classroom, East-West was able to send Ms. Chang and Farisa Ahmed to participate in this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Farisa was thrilled when she found out that she would be East-West's student representative:

    When I was told I was given the opportunity to go meet President Hu Jin Tao and First Lady Michelle Obama, it was a moment of complete bliss. All my years at east west just flew through my brain like a tornado. I was very grateful to everyone who made the trip possible. Excitement rushed into my heart, because it was the first time I would be visiting the nation’s capital. Washington D.C just had a certain ring to it that made me jump for joy. Over the course of two days China and U.S. relations was the only thing I could think about.

    In her speech, Mrs. Obama said that by studying abroad, students are helping to make America stronger. She quoted her husband, saying: “America has no better ambassadors to offer than our young people.” Mrs. Obama’s keynote was followed by a panel discussion with students who shared anecdotes of their experiences learning Mandarin and studying in China. Afterward, student representatives shook hands and chatted with the First Lady.

    The event, which took place on the campus of Howard University, coincided with the visit of Chinese President Hu Jintao to Washington, DC.

    Asia Society’s Confucius Classrooms were invited to this event because of their strong commitment to building an educational partnership with schools in China, supporting their students in learning Chinese, and sending them to study in China.

    At Morning Muster the day after she came back from Washington D.C., Farisa described her experience in front of the student body, but confided that she wasn't so sure about it being a "once-in-a-lifetime opportunity":

    "When I shook her hand, I had a feeling I was going to see her again."

    More photos under the cut and more to follow!

    Michelle Obama gives a keynote speech

    Michelle Obama onstage with students reps

    Michelle Obama speaks to Confucius Classroom students

    For more information:

    Asia Society:

    White House press release: First Lady Michelle Obama urges American youth to strengthen US-China ties

    The 100,00 Strong Initiative: