Students celebrate the Lunar New Year at South Iredell High School

Posted at 10:24 PM on Feb 10, 2019

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Students and community members took part in the 2019 Lunar New Year celebration at South Iredell High School Saturday. The event drew in more than 100 visitors to the school.

BY KARISSA MILLER

A lively group of students and adults hovered around a table and watched the quick movements of Taiwan vegetable artist Bobby Wang’s knife at South Iredell High School Saturday morning.

“Wow!” a woman said as Wang transferred a cucumber into a bird within 60 seconds and handed it to her.

Wang then took a turnip, working at a slower pace, and turned it into a perched bird for a boy standing in the crowd. As he handed it to him, Wang pointed down to dabs of paint and invited him to add some color.

“Cool,” he said, thanking him for the bird. Others stood around taking pictures of the bird and the artist as he began another design.

Wang was one of several guests who led cultural demonstrations during the 2019 Lunar New Year event hosted by Tower Bridge International and South Iredell High School.

About self-taught artist Bobby Wang

Wang was born in Taiwan in 1949.

As a teenager, he learned the art of vegetable carving in a busy restaurant. When the restaurant staff went on break, they would teach him how to cook and carve.

At that time, he never imagined that one day he’d be a food artist in his own U.S. restaurant.

In 1974, he was hired as a chef in San Francisco. Wang showed promise, slowly evolving from a novice food artist to reaching an expert level. Fifteen years later, he opened his own restaurant, Wang’s in Seattle.

He attracted the top boss of Boeing and received much acclaim from many other notable people, landing him the spotlight of local restaurant celebrity.

Years later, he worked out another plan as he opened “Five Happiness” restaurant, a hot spot in New Orleans for a decade.

Since 2016 Wang and his family have lived in Charlotte. He has been sharing his passion for art at cultural festivals and events, including Queens University. He hopes this art will carry on for generations.

About Chinese New Year

The Chinese New Year celebration was hosted by Chinese exchange students and Iredell-Statesville Schools students. It provided an opportunity for American students and their families to experience Chinese food, language, games, crafts, martial arts, calligraphy and more.

Exchange student “Shirley” prepared hot green tea for guests at one of the cultural stations. She is a yearlong student studying at Lake Norman High School. She counts Mexican food and sweet tea among the foods and beverages that she’s tried and liked while visiting Iredell County.

Her sister Lucia is also an international student in Iredell County. Lucia said that she likes school in America and the freedom students have. Lucia said she’s enjoyed the opportunity to play sports and take classes like PE and art.

Lucia had guests tell her a name or word that she would like them to write in calligraphy and then gave them a chance to write it out on their own. The word calligraphy means beautiful handwriting and is an ancient art.

“A lot don’t try it,” she said. “They are afraid to mess it up. I tell them, ‘You can do it.’”

Another exchange student, Alan, who attends South Iredell, said that one tradition that his family from Shanghai participates in each lunar new year is making dumplings together. His family makes them with different meats.

Alan helped out at the game station, where guest could play Chinese hacky sack with feathers and other popular games.

The event ended with a special performance by Chinese and American students showcasing their talents in singing, dancing, instrument playing, martial arts and ballet inside the school’s new auditorium.

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