Irene Chen is Jumpstart’s former Manager of Research & Development
January 31 marks the start of a new year for many people around the world. Chinese New Year is a celebration of renewal, a hopeful looking forward into spring, and a reflection on the past year. Many see this as a time for cleaning the home, making way for incoming good luck and fortune for the New Year. People decorate their windows and doors with red Chinese characters that celebrate good fortune and happiness. Firecrackers are lit; food is shared; families gather.
While there are different traditions, the New Year is celebrated in similar ways around the world. We gather at the start of something new, hoping that the best is yet to come.
Many of the traditions on this holiday are deeply rooted in the culture and the language of the people who celebrate it. Since my brother and I were born here, my parents translated their Taiwanese culture and adapted it to an American context. I’m lucky to have grown up in a home where more than one culture and language was celebrated.
There are many traditions on this day. Some of these traditions are specific to a family, others specific to a community. The beauty of a tradition is the impact of it being passed down over many generations, and its adaptation and transformation to fit the cultural needs of a community over time. Similarly, what I see in Jumpstart’s impact is the formation of a strong tradition of literacy in the 200 communities we serve across the country.
The color red is prominent on this holiday, as with other celebrations of joyous occasions. In the same way, the red of our Corps member t-shirts has become easily recognizable among our preschool children and the communities we support, signaling a family of change makers who are passionate about literacy and making an impact on children in low-income neighborhoods.
What matters most on this day is family – and the Jumpstart family wishes you all a very happy New Year.