One of Lunar New Year’s many traditions is making and eating dumplings. Each year, students in Susie Beattie’s Chinese IV/V class learn how to make dumplings right in Berkshire Hall. The students made an assembly line to roll out, fill, and crimp the dough. Once the dumplings are assembled, they are taken into the Great Room to be fried. Once the dumplings are fried up, the students enjoy their post-lunch snack with their classmates.
Beattie describes the connection between dumplings and the New Year which goes back centuries, “The shape of the dumpling resembles an ancient form of money, the golden ingot, therefore it is believed that in making and consuming dumplings on the Lunar New Year Eve, you will enjoy great prosperity in the New Year.”
Introducing a culture’s food in class allows students to learn about the greater context of the language they’re studying. Haedyn Darling Hill ’24 says “Being able to understand and participate in all aspects of culture, rather than just the language, is so important to understanding the whole picture. It allows us to learn so much more than if we were to simply learn the language.”
Rhys Ferer ’24 says that the dumplings helped him become more immersed in the language he has studied for the past eight years. “Cooking in our class is another way that we can apply our knowledge and understanding of the language,” he said. “Most of the ingredients and tools we use in the process of cooking are terms that we have learned in the past.”
Lunar New Year is celebrated outside of the classrooms at Berkshire. This year’s event featured sushi chefs coming to lunch on Friday, Feb. 9 for the entire community to enjoy. The dining hall was decorated with calligraphy characters made by members of the Asian Affinity group. Beattie says that “the Lunar New Year is a wonderful opportunity for students at Berkshire who celebrate the festival to share their culture with their classmates and teachers.”
For the students in Beattie’s Chinese class, the kitchen skills learned through the Lunar New Year celebration will travel back home with them. “I plan on making some when I get home,” said Darling Hill. “Though I might steam the next batch, I had a great time making dumplings with my classmates and am excited to bring this experience back to my family.”
Ferer says he is also looking forward to showing off his new cooking skills in front of a seasoned judge, “I am a huge fan of Asian food as my grandma learned how to cook it when she worked in various parts of Asia,” he said. “When she cooked for me, dumplings were one of those dishes that tasted really good. I want to try to make them as good as her and will use the skills I picked up to help.”