There is extensive research showing that belonging at school leads to increased mental and physical health, as well as greater learning.

My first introduction to Chinese New Year was at the Spring Festival in 2009. I had recently moved to Beijing, and I naively asked people where to go to see the fireworks. (It’s okay if you laugh at this!). I quickly found out that every road was full of people and fireworks for hours each night of the holiday season. That first year, I went out on the street to enjoy the festivities. It was an unforgettable experience, being surrounded by explosions and people celebrating in the sounds and lights.

I also learned that visiting family is an important tradition during this time. For a foreigner in Beijing, that meant a nearly empty city for two weeks as so many people traveled to their hometowns. My friends lined up at the train station hours before dawn to purchase tickets home. They ended up with tickets for standing on the trains, as the seats sold out almost immediately. They were not only willing but eager to stand on a train for several hours to join their families. That’s how important the annual reunion was to them.

This year in Penang, the family reunions will be even sweeter. Many families have not been able to celebrate together for the last three years due to COVID travel restrictions. The time spent with extended family is precious and many relationships will be rekindled.

The practice of gathering the extended family for a reunion annually is one practiced in many cultures. Setting aside specific time to reconnect with those living far apart is vital for all of us. So whether you have family nearby this Chinese New Year or not, it’s a great time to reconnect with family members from whom you may have drifted apart. I encourage everyone to take some time this holiday to reconnect with your loved ones.

Written by Shawna Wood

Ms. Shawna Wood is dedicated to mentoring and discipling the next generation. Shawna has a Master of Education and has been at Dalat since 2012, first as Middle School principal and now as Deputy Head of school​.
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