Lunar New Year: Durham Academy celebrates the Year of the Tiger

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- Lunar New Year celebrations are beginning across the world and in the Triangle. Students inside Bonnie Wang's Chinese Heritage and Advanced Topics class at Durham Academy are ringing in the Year of the Tiger. Empowerment is key.

"Many of my students are from Asian heritage or mixed cultural heritages," said Wang. "Some of their identities or heritages are marginalized. Not recognized at school or in other places."

But that is not the case where she teaches. She has made it her mission this year and all seven years she's taught there to make sure students see themselves at home and at school.

One of her students, Paul Wang, now sees the difference this makes because he attended middle school elsewhere. He was never taught Chinese heritage prior to attending Durham Academy.

"I thought I was OK with that because I could always do stuff with my family. I realized the importance of doing it at school as well. It's changed my perspective," he said.

Students have immersed themselves in learning the language and issues facing Asian communities. On Tuesday, students spent class time practicing calligraphy, eating cultural foods and dragon dancing.

It is a lesson that students like Alexis Gelber appreciate.

"I don't like to just know more about myself, but to see how other people live in this world because everyone lives very differently," she said.

Bonnie Wang is proudly teaching her students what embracing their culture looks like while combatting the ways of the world.

"They don't have to be white or black. They can be themselves," she said. "They can stand up when they see injustices happen. They are confident enough. They are brave enough to do something and take action."
Copyright © 2022 WTVD-TV. All Rights Reserved.