Chinese New Year - at the library


February 13, 2002|By Heather Tepe | Heather Tepe,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

MEMBERS OF the Chinese Language School of Columbia brought in the Chinese New Year with a bang at the central branch of the Howard County Public Library on Saturday. The celebration began with the sounds of a ceremonial drum and a performance of the traditional Lion Dance.

Yesterday marked the year 4699 on the Chinese calendar, the year of the horse. In China, the New Year's celebration is also called the Spring Festival.

"A person born in this year will be very outgoing, active, faithful and energetic," said Emily Lee, executive director of extracurricular activities for the Columbia school.

The Chinese Language School of Columbia has been in operation for 30 years. The school uses the facilities at Howard High School on Sunday afternoons to teach Chinese language and culture to children in prekindergarten through grade 12.

"New Year's Day is a big family reunion day," Lee said. "We have traditional food like dumplings or sticky, sweet rice bowls. On New Year's Eve, parents give children red envelopes with money inside as a blessing. It's to help the children have better luck in the next year and to help them grow."

Lee said that it is also tradition to wear new clothes on New Year's Day. "We usually wear red. Red and gold are lucky colors in Chinese," she said.

Nearly 200 people watched demonstrations of kung fu, students using Chinese yo-yos and traditional Chinese dances. Sharif Talib, 32, and William Collins, 17, students with the Jow Ga Kung Fu Athletic Association in Columbia, performed the Lion Dance.

"Lions are brave and happy. They scare away the evil spirits," Lee explained.

River Hill High School student John Wu, 16, played the huquin, a Chinese violin. Pao-Yuan Lin entertained the crowd on the zheng, which is a Chinese zither that dates back 2,300 years.

Ann Hackeling attended the program with her husband, Geoff Baker, and their 2-year-old daughter, Hope, who was adopted from China.

Hackeling said the program was a wonderful opportunity to learn more about Chinese culture. "We want to make as many connections as possible with Hope's heritage," she said. "We're thankful that there is a Chinese community in the area that offers these programs. It helps us learn, too."

Waiting for the bus

Howard countians who rely on public transportation have a new tool to help them answer the question, "When is the bus going to arrive?" Last week, Howard Transit became the first bus system in the state to use the Automatic Vehicle Locator (AVL) system, which displays bus arrival times on lighted message boards at selected bus stops.

The system tracks buses using satellite-based global positioning systems. Buses are equipped with a receiver that transmits the exact location of a bus. That information is used to display arrival times on message boards. A hand-held device that decodes message board information through a voice synthesizer is available for visually impaired passengers.

County Executive James N. Robey activated the system Feb. 5 at Florence Bain Senior Center. "Our goal is to make the bus system easier to use," Robey said.

Message boards are in operation at the Gateway Building, George Howard Building, District Court bus shelter and Florence Bain Senior Center. By the end of the month, message boards will be added at stops on Harpers Farm Road and Cedar Lane, Twin Rivers and Trumpeter roads, Little Patuxent Parkway at Vantage Point Road and Little Patuxent Parkway at Running Brook Road. Plans call for additional message display boards at 52 sites.

Tina Cole of Wilde Lake, attended the ceremony at which the system was activated. "I think it's going to be wonderful," she said. "I take the bus all the time. This is one of those things that you never thought would happen. It really is a new millennium."

Historical party

Friends and relatives of Jasmine Canada-Tarpley celebrated her second birthday as well as Black History Month on Saturday at Slayton House in Wilde Lake village.

"I wanted to do it to commemorate Black History Month and for the families to get together and give them a sense of black pride and culture," said Tynia Canada-Tarpley, who was host of the event with her husband, Donald Tarpley.

Guests were invited to choose a black leader or inventor and discuss that individual's accomplishments at the party. Jasmine came as Queen Nefertiti while her brother Jabari, 7, dressed as Malcolm X. Jason Canada Malcolm, 15, recited the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech.

"Everyone had a fabulous time, including Jasmine," Canada-Tarpley said.

Free summer programs

During a ceremony at Supreme Sports Club on Saturday, 16 Columbia youths were awarded scholarships by the Columbia Association and Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Central Maryland to attend summer programs.

The Columbia Association donated half the cost of the programs. The other half was collected from Columbia residents during the "Give-A-Little" campaign held over the holidays.

The children, who range in age from 8 to 16, will attend summer camps run by the Columbia Association for activities such as cheerleading, nature study and sports.

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