CJ Robinson, Reporter
The Pierce College International Club competed in two races during the 2016 Dragon Boat Festival on April 30 at the Port Plaza in Olympia.
According to the St. Martin’s Dragon Boat Festival page, the festival is a celebration of diversity and culture. This is the college’s second year in a row participating.
“We’re pretty much just working together as a team to conquer the Dragon Boat challenge and defeat everyone else,” student Mackenzie Shepherd said. “We’re gonna conquer it together.”
The “Dragon Boat challenge” Shepherd is referring to is actually a series of races. This year, 24 teams competed. Each heat consists of four teams racing and a certain amount of teams move on to final heats depending on their times, much like traditional rowing teams. New competitors, like the college, are supplied with an instructor to guide them through the event and give them feedback after every race. The college’s team had one day to practice their rowing since they were in the non-competitive league.
“This event is in my country,” student Neil Chen said. “I’m from Taiwan, and we do it every year. Our country is pretty good at it, but this was my first time doing it. It’s fun but hard.”
Although Dragon Boating is a part of many Asian cultures, it’s deeply rooted in Chinese history and has a deep symbolic value. The boats each have a carving of a dragon at its head and painted scales run down the sides. The paddles represent claws. A drum seated at the head of the boat creates a beat that competitors can synchronize their rowing to.
Breanna Baker, adviser of the International Club, helps the students decide what types of activities they would like to do.
“The college had done this annually a few years before, and someone mentioned it to me and I thought ‘oh, this is a really good idea’,” Baker said.
Baker brought up the activity and the members were very enthusiastic about it.
The only challenge Baker mentioned was the language barrier and difficulty understanding the different types of signals, but ended up working out in the end.
The festival included cultural performances, an awards ceremony and the races themselves. Surrounding the festival was a farmer’s market and many booths hosted by local businesses and colleges. The performances included traditional lion dances, music and martial arts.
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