YES Programs



Celebrating Chinese New Year in the US

Mas Zac Wong Pax Chinese New Year Dinner Hfam

By Zac Wong (YES 2018-2019, Malaysia, hosted by PAX in Indianapolis, IN)

Celebrating Chinese New Year away from home wasn’t bad at all! It’s a super new experience. I started the first day of Chinese New Year as usual, by wearing new clothes (a bit weird because I followed Malaysia time!). I did something special and unusual at school yesterday -- I gave out “Angpow” to my teachers and friends. “Angpow” is basically a red packet containing money and is distributed as gifts on Chinese New Year. The amount doesn’t really matter; it’s a symbol of blessing and prosperity. My principal was super happy to get that, and even said “Man, you made my day!”

Mas Zac Wong Pax Principal Chinese New Year
Zac and his school principal

When I returned home, I wasn’t expecting any celebration but my host family told me to get ready, we’re going to have some Chinese food for Chinese New Year. I was super suprised! The American Chinese food was great and tasted just like the ones we have in Malaysia, and we also got some fortune cookies! During the dinner, I gave out the “Angpow" and explained our traditions in celebrating Chinese New Year. My family was really amazed by the traditions we practice. The unexpected thing was when a Chinese chef came over to us and told me that she was very proud to see me practicing our traditions even when far away from our home country. I’m very glad I was able to introduce some Chinese traditions to my host community. I even taught them how to say “新年快乐”which means Happy New Year in Mandarin. I was just doing my job as a youth ambassador!


May is #HostForAmerica month! 

Go to to submit YOUR story about how living with a host family or hosting a YES student has changed your life!

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