Skip to main content

Celebrating Identity: Teaching Empathy and Understanding using Cultural Celebrations of the New Year (online NCTA program)

Lunar New Year 2020 at Wing Luke Museum with LQ Lion Dance Team. Photo by Alabastro Photography.

A grandmother teaches her grandchild how to create rice cakes filled with sweetened red beans, a young girl and her cousins watching YouTube videos together as they gather with their family for their yearly New Year’s feast, a mochi-making tradition is shared on Instagram to online followers–these time-honored rituals of celebrating the New Year have been adapted and adopted to fit into our modern American households. From generation to generation and spanning nations, what aspects of our holidays stay the same?

Students come to the classroom with a wealth of knowledge, resources and perspectives—of their identities, family stories, histories and traditions. Identities crafted and created by the foods and flavors that make up the family dinner table and being in community. Classroom conversations around these moments both empower students to learn more about themselves and their families but also to hear other experiences of their classmates.

Teachers joined us for a two-part training as Wing Luke shares their Asian American New Year curriculum as speakers talked about how to teach the cultural diversity of Asian Americans in the United States through the lens of empathy and understanding. Created in partnership between the Wing Luke Museum and East Asia Resource center, this teacher training centers on the voices of Asian Americans who shares stories of the holidays that they celebrate and how the holidays continue the connection to their heritage.

Participants dived deeper into how a New Year’s Holiday can be a touchpoint for deeper conversations around individual students’ identities and how we can use the celebrations as a way to see how traditions change and adapt with new generations.


Rahul Gupta, who has served as Director of Education and Tours at the Wing Luke Museum for 7 years. His efforts have moved the educational work of the museum toward utilizing dialogic engagement, emphasizing the power of oral history and storytelling, and enhancing the immersive experience for Social Studies, ELA, Arts, and SEL students.

Maya Hayashi, the Education Specialist at the Wing Luke Museum, spoke about her family’s Japanese American traditions and her work in developing the curriculum.

Julie Kang is theDirector of Professional & Continuing Education at the College of Education, Seattle University. With 30 years of P-20 teaching and leadership experience, Dr. Julie Kang, NBCT connects theory to practice. Her research and teaching focuses on multilingual learners, cultural sustaining pedagogy and professional learning for educators.

Dates and Times

This is a two-part program with sessions on:

Tuesday, January 16, 2024 from 4:30 PM to 6:30 PM (Pacific Time)

Wednesday, January 17, 2024 from 4:30 PM to 6:30 PM (Pacific Time)

Program Benefits

  • 4 WA OSPI clock hours were offered to participants who attended both sessions.
  • Free books recommended by the Wing Luke Museum, sent to participants after the completion of the program.
  • Online resources.

This program was sponsored by the East Asia Resource Center at the University of Washington, and funded by a Freeman Foundation grant in support of the National Consortium for Teaching about Asia (NCTA).