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Source: Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology

Homemade dumplings and “joyful activities” will feature during Ying Guan’s Chinese New Year celebrations, as she gathers with friends today to herald the Year of the Ox. 

The animal is one of 12 zodiac signs that Ying says are an important and traditional part of Chinese life. 

“The Ox can be seen as symbolising stability, fertility, and determination in my culture,” she says. 

Having lived most of her life in Harbin, northeast China – an area famous for its ice and snow sculptures – Ying will have to use online video calls to catch up with her family during this year’s festivities. 

“I miss my family, but sadly they cannot come to New Zealand for a reunion because of the COVID-19 pandemic,” she says.  

She’s happy with the new friends she’s made while studying her Master of Teaching Early Childhood Education course at Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology. Ying intends to join these friends and start the New Year by watching Chunwan (the Spring Festival Gala) and will also hand red envelopes to children and elders to wish them good luck and longevity. 

Ying is now a third of the way through her Master’s course, which she’ll finish in December. She’s previously taught English at a Chinese high school and Mandarin at primary and secondary schools in London. 

“While teaching in England, I was lucky to work with some excellent professionals in the Early Childhood Education field. I learnt a lot from them and got motivated to learn more about ECE. I now have two kids of my own and feel a great responsibility to educate them in a more professional way. New Zealand has a world-leading curriculum, contributing to high-quality early childhood education,” she says.