Monkey See ... 

At the Oakland Asian Cultural Center, the Lunar New Year activities never end.

"The Year of the Monkey is going to be a good year," surmises Nicole Chan, program coordinator of the Oakland Asian Cultural Center. "The spirit of the year is playful, because their minds work fast. It's usually a year of teamwork and friendship involving lots of people, including your family."

As anyone who has lived in the East Bay knows from experience, the colorful celebrations by the area's Chinese, Vietnamese, and Korean communities don't just happen on Lunar New Year's Day, which falls on January 22 this year. The Oakland Asian Cultural Center (388 9th St.) hosts a full slate of activities in the next few weeks, beginning this Saturday. Instructor Patty Chu and her dance class will display their homemade Northern Chinese costumes; Laney College teacher and competitive chef Jimmy Zhang shows off his food carving expertise; and Mr. S.Y. Liu will exhibit his students' watercolors based on traditional nature themes, such as butterflies and bamboo. All three teachers' classes continue through the next month. Also Saturday, a group of oral historians will appear in various national costumes to interact with visitors and explain New Year's customs of China, Vietnam, and Korea. Saturday is also the day for the Asian Pacific American Multimedia and Books Expo, a cultural hodgepodge sponsored by Eastwind Books and the Oakland Public Library, with emphasis on Asian-American CDs, DVDs, manga, books, and computer games. You can sample this wide world of multimedia in the center's Edward W. Chin Auditorium, January 16 through 19.

The monkey business doesn't end there. Says Anne Huang, the center's director: "I'm very excited about this year because we're working with the Oakland Museum." The OACC will have a special booth at the museum's Lunar New Year festival on Sunday. And if that isn't enough, the streets of Oakland Chinatown will be blocked off Sunday and Monday for a Chinatown Bazaar street celebration. Keep an eye out for the Asian-Pacific-American Heritage Festival, coming in May; and the annual Oakland Chinatown Festival next August. Say, this monkey is going to be busy. For more information, visit OACC.cc or phone 510-637-0459.

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