By Gabriella Polsinelli
Baltimore Watchdog Staff Writer
Mothers and children of the Asian-American community urged the Baltimore County Board of Education this week to consider the Lunar New Year as an excused school holiday.
Women of the Chinese-American Parents Association of Baltimore County attended Tuesday’s board meeting to speak out during the public comment section, suggesting that the inclusion of their cultural holiday could enforce identity and acceptance.
Fifth-grader Simon Qian of Riderwood Elementary School shared his own personal in-classroom experience to the board and explained that he has a wish for normality.
“In Lutherville, there are a lot of Asian American kids in the community,” Qian said. “We are very happy in school, but I still have a wish. I wish we can have our holiday as well, to be equal to all of the other kids.”
The discussion for more cultural and religious holidays during the school year comes just after the school board voted against Muslim holidays last month.
According to the Baltimore Sun, board members questioned the legal challenge of the religious holidays, saying there was no data to prove enough Muslim students would be absent to justify a change in the school holiday schedule.
Dr. Shuli Xia of Kennedy Krieger said Baltimore County should follow other school districts that have approved the Lunar New Year.
“Howard County accepted our holiday in January,” Xia said. “It is about acceptance, and wanting all students to be open and able to experience all cultures in our diverse community.”
Lunar New Year still remains the most important social and economic holiday to be celebrated in China, according to history.com. The holiday, said to have been a celebration since the Shang Dynasty in 1766 B.C., still includes many strict traditions like symbols, foods, and how those foods are eaten and in which particular order.
For one Asian American mother, it’s not just about the holiday.
Bing Cao told the board that the holiday means more to her than just a day, but also a model of cultural identity.
“We want to be role models to our children,” Cao said. “If we don’t ask for this, we won’t arise from it. Our children suffer from wanting to fit in with the rest of their public school friends, but also wanting acceptance within their historical culture.”
Cao said she is eager to speak and work with the Board of Education because she believes the members are willing to listen and allow her to illustrate the importance of this movement.
“It is time we build up more pride, more inclusion, more involvement with not just our culture, but the cultures of all that are in the American school setting,” Cao said.
The Chinese-American Parents Association of Baltimore County said it will continue to be present at Baltimore County Board of Education meetings.