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Mid-Autumn Celebration Showcases Cultural Exchange, International Diversity at Mississippi College

The Mid-Autumn Festival at Mississippi College is a
The Mid-Autumn Festival at Mississippi College is a "beautiful blend of cultural exchange and celebration," according to Ryan Yu, a Moon Festival Committee member.

Each fall, the Office of Global Education at Mississippi College sponsors a traditional international celebration to recognize a significant cultural event for those from East and Southeast Asia.

The Mid-Autumn Festival, also known as the Moon Festival or Mooncake Festival, dates back more than 3,000 years, when the countries’ agrarian societies observed changes in lunar phases to determine farming schedules. In time, the full moon came to symbolize family reunions, and the festival became an official holiday similar to Thanksgiving in the U.S.

Celebrated on the 15th day of the eighth month in the lunar calendar, the festival is also associated with several legends that, according to Ryan Yu, a senior kinesiology and pre-physical therapy major from Shanghai, China, “add a touch of mystique” to the celebration.

One of the most famous legends is the story of the lovely Chang’e, “The Lady in the Moon,” who was forced to drink the Elixir of Life given to her consort, the skillful archer Hou Yi, to keep it from falling into the hands of a wicked man.

For international students at MC like Yu, the Moon Festival represents more than grandiose tales. At its core is a celebration of community.

“It’s a time when communities come together to enjoy the festive atmosphere,” Yu said. “What I like most about the Moon Festival is its strong sense of togetherness. It’s a time when people of diverse backgrounds come together to enjoy the beauty of the moon.

“Especially as an international student, it will be a great time to FaceTime with our families. The atmosphere will be filled with warmth and unity.”

The Office of Global Education will host this year’s Moon Festival at MC from 5:30-9 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 29, in the campus Piazza. The entire MC family is invited to the celebration, which will include select performances by international students and tasty snacks like mooncakes, a round pastry with a rich, thick filling that has become a standard delicacy shared among family and friends at the festival.

Yu, who is on the Moon Festival Planning Committee, said MC’s celebration is unlike any other Moon Festival this side of the Pacific Ocean.

“The Moon Festival at MC is unique because it’s a beautiful blend of cultural exchange and celebration,” he said. “It’s an opportunity for students from all backgrounds to experience and appreciate Chinese culture while also showcasing the diversity and inclusivity of our campus community.

“Hosting the Moon Festival benefits MC students, faculty, and staff by promoting cultural understanding and diversity. It creates an inclusive environment that fosters cross-cultural friendships and promotes global awareness, which are essential skills for our interconnected world.”

That’s what attracted Anna Robbins to the International Student Association at MC. The Moon Festival was the first major event that the sophomore international studies and public health major from Birmingham, Alabama, helped plan as ISA public relations coordinator last year.

“I knew it would be cool, but I had no idea how awesome and eye-opening it would be,” Robbins said of last year’s celebration. “My favorite thing about the Moon Festival is seeing the excitement our East Asian students have when they show off fun parts of their culture, like food, dance, and the holiday customs that their families practice.

“I also love seeing people from all of MC’s different cultures getting to know each other by bonding over good food and music.”

Now ISA president, Robbins is overseeing plans for the festival. She hopes it will provide an opportunity for the MC family to wrap its arms around the University’s international students.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity to enjoy new friendships and learn from each other,” she said. “We love our international students for exactly who they are: genuinely talented people with a million awesome cultures, languages, and stories to share.

“The Moon Festival celebrates the unity and joy that happens when people from international backgrounds get together to dance, sing, eat, and just have fun. MC’s international population is a blessing that deserves so much celebration and love.”

Robbins said she is looks forward to seeing participants enjoy spending time in a lively yet relaxed environment.

“I’m a huge believer that everyone benefits when we learn to live in a multicultural world,” she said. “Hosting the Moon Festival is deeply nutritious to MC’s campus, helping us grow in knowledge and connection. That was a huge tenet of Jesus’ earthly teaching – growing in love and understanding with hearts open to learning.

“As Christians, having multiculturally conscious minds brings so much glory to God because we know that behind every sweet personality, incredible talent, complicated language, and beautiful story is a creative God who cares more about us and the details of our lives than we could ever know.”

Yu said sharing cultural traditions and celebrating together with the MC community is always a rewarding experience.

“I’m most looking forward to seeing the joy on people’s faces as they experience the Moon Festival for the first time,” he said. “The festival is a testament to the University’s commitment to fostering a welcoming and inclusive community. It’s a time when the campus truly comes alive with the spirit of unity and appreciation for the world’s diverse cultures.

“I would encourage all MC students, faculty, and staff to attend the Moon Festival. It’s a chance to learn about and embrace different cultures, make new friends, and enjoy a memorable evening under the moonlight. It’s an inclusive and enriching experience for everyone.”

For more information about the Moon Festival at MC, click here.