Students will have the opportunity to taste food from various cultures this Thursday. Competing with the Program Council’s PC Soul-Food Cook-Off, the Office of MISS will offer a Chinese New Year lunch in an effort to reinstate the holiday celebrations on campus. Ashley McDonough, program coordinator for Multicultural and International student services said, “We have a large population of international students that I know are excited about celebrating [the holiday] and obviously, in our office, we like to change things up a little bit. Chinese New Year is such an event for so many people – especially in Houston,” said Ashley McDonough, program coordinator for Multicultural and International student services. This year, the Chinese New Year kicks off today, Feb. 7. The beginning and ending dates of the year change because it is based on a lunar calendar, typically the Gregorian calendar. Celebrations end on the 15th day of the New Year, which is called the Lantern Festival. Although it is not an official American holiday, many Houston area communities celebrate the holiday, as well as some SHSU students. “We actually have a few students,” McDonough said. “One in particular works in the office and is a member of diversity counsel. She celebrated with her family this weekend and we are lucky enough that she brought back all kinds of things from when she celebrates.”The focus of the celebration is to encourage prosperity in the New Year. Ethnic food such as shrimp and garlic sauce and orange duck will be served from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. in LSC room 320 today. Participants will be able to construct Chinese lanterns and traditional envelopes and handouts will help ring in the New Year. Information about the holiday will be provided and traditional music will help to set the mood for participants.”We like to have kind of a cool interactive thing. For this year’s Chinese celebration, we’re going to have red envelopes available. That’s one of the big traditions in New Year’s – fill it with candy and money or fortunes so people can stuff their envelopes with whatever they want,” McDonough said. The Chinese New Year is only one in a series of planned events hosted by the MISS office and it inspired the office theme of the semester. “It relates to the multi-cultural and international student population,” McDonough said. “Actually, along with celebrating Chinese New Year this semester, we’re doing the theme of continental Asia as a whole. We’re going to have a Taste of Japan Night, a think-tank breakfast, and also a Bollywood night that I’m really excited about. It’s really going to be interesting,” McDonough said.