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Bridging virtual audience to cultural celebrations

By Reagan Liu and Nancy Zheng Mar. 17, 2021

Courtesy of Karen Lin; Courtesy of the Yao family

Instead of entering the bustling cafeteria filled with Lunar New Year decorations, the audience members of this year’s Bridge Night were virtually immersed in a slideshow of past Bridge Nights to start off the event. Before the student performances and guest speakers were presented, pictures of previous emcees, attendees, performances and other activities such as annual fall barbeques and teacher appreciation luncheons were revisited as the Bridge Parents Group began celebrating its 20th anniversary.

Bridge Parents Group, the school’s nonprofit organization made up of Chinese American families, hosts an annual Bridge Night, to celebrate Lunar New Year and fundraise for school-related endeavors. As the group decided to hold the event via Facebook livestream due to the pandemic, numerous alterations took place. Without in-person gatherings, this year was absent of the authentic Chinese dinner that student volunteers would traditionally serve guests. Additionally, in place of the lion dance that usually introduces Bridge Night, Senior Curtis Luu shared a compilation video of past years’ lion dances.

After the slideshow, this year’s emcees—Seniors Audrey Lui, Devon Shao, Janice Shih and Vincent Zhu—guided viewers through the two-hour virtual event, which consisted of student performances, day-in-the-life montages, guest speakers and raffles. Shih states that although the virtual format eased the heavy responsibility of being an emcee, they each still spent over at least 20 hours preparing activities, writing scripts and recording their parts.

“I love being able to share and celebrate Chinese New Year with everyone during Bridge Night, and I find the combination of performances and cultural celebrations to be a unique way to fundraise for the school. What I miss most about in-person Bridge Night is being able to introduce my culture to more people, including several of my friends and teachers who usually attend. However, holding a virtual event is better than not having one altogether,” Shih said.

From musical performances to magic shows, students showcased their engagement in diverse activities.

From musical performances to magic shows, students showcased their engagement in diverse activities. Senior Karen Lin played cultural music on her pipa, a traditional Chinese instrument, and Freshman Hailey Tan recorded a lively harp piece. Junior Sophia He presented an energetic Latin dance, Freshman Daniel Xu displayed a sword routine of Kung Fu, a form of Chinese martial arts, Shao exhibited his cardistry Courtesy of Hailey Tan

skills and Zhu performed card tricks.

Juniors Alice Mao and Yudi Li created comic videos regarding COVID-19 and Lunar New Year. Some students, including Junior Victor Man and Sophomore Greg Chu, filmed their exercise regimen and daily routine during the pandemic, respectively.

Bridge Parents Group endured various challenges while preparing for Bridge Night, and initially considered canceling this year’s event completely. Angela Hung, Vice President of Bridge, noted that since a virtual Bridge Night was unprecedented, finding student volunteers to help with technological tasks and submit performance videos in a short amount of time proved to be major obstacles.

Furthermore, Bridge Night is Bridge Parents Group’s largest annual fundraising event and primarily relies on entry and raffle ticket sales for funds. However, due to this year’s virtual format, the event was free to view and proceeds only came from raffle ticket purchases. On top of that, cancellations of in-person school events such as Back-to-School Night—when the group usually advertises Bridge Night—led to less interest in the event compared to previous years.

“The only immediate action that the board members could take was advertising on social media such as Facebook and WeChat. Joyce Yu, our communication coordinator, had to reach out to local broadcasting stations and newspapers such as the Almaden Times to promote this event,” Hung said.

Despite these obstacles, Hung deems this year’s Bridge Night successful given the circumstances, as it exceeded initial expectations. The livestream also featured speeches from Principal Peter Park and District 10 Councilmember Matt Mahan, honoring the organization’s anniversary, as well as commentary from all of Bridge Parents Group’s previous presidents, voicing their pride for the organization’s strong development and impact over the past 20 years.

“In the winter of 2000, Bridge Parents Group Co-Founder Huayan Wee and fellow parents helped make phone calls to Chinese parents to raise money for the Media Center. In just three weeks, over $30,000 was raised, and the parents discovered that Chinese families wanted to contribute to the school but were unable to because of language and cultural barriers,” Annie Huang, President of Bridge, said.

Over the years, the group has continued to provide financial support for facility improvements such as picnic tables and electronic signs and programs including speech and debate, journalism, robotics and the Music Department.

To bridge these gaps, in early 2001, the parents published the first Chinese newsletter, Leland Bridge, and the Bridge Parents Group was officially named as a nonprofit organization in the fall of 2001. Over the years, the group has continued to provide financial support for facility improvements such as picnic tables and electronic signs and programs including speech and debate, journalism, robotics and the Music Department. During the pandemic, Bridge Parents Group has been hosting online seminars regarding course selection and college preparation through Zoom, which have gained more attendees than past in-person lectures.

“Bridge Parents Group does not only raise funds for the school, but it also mobilizes parents to get involved in school activities. As a collective effort, our group will continue to make the school a better place for all students,” Huang said.


About the Contributors

Reagan Liu

Staff Writer

Reagan Liu is a sophomore at Leland High school and a staff writer at the Leland Charger Account. He loves music and listens to many different genres of music in his free time. He never skips a meal and consumes all the nutrients needed to stay healthy.

Nancy Zheng

Investigative Report Editor

Nancy Zheng is a junior at Leland High School and is the Investigative Report Editor and Ad Manager. She is an avid classical pianist and Chinese folkloric dancer of over 11 years. In her free time, she enjoys bullet journaling and obsessing over green tea/matcha.

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