International Office organized a class on Chinese traditions of Spring Festival and poetry learning, themed “Experiencing China • Dialogues with the Ancients”, on December 20th. The class was purposed to introduce International students to Chinese tradition of Spring Festival, the charm of Chinese language and cultural connotations of poetry. The instructors were Zhang Mingzhu and Wang Chu from School of Chinese. In attendance were Ms. Li Weiwei from International Office and international students from the Belt and Road School.
The class began with the airing of a Spring Festival video clip. The clip specifically introduced the students to the origin of “Nian”, customs like "reunion dinner" and "new year greetings." Modern Chinese New Year activities such as “Spring Festival Gala”, "Spring Festival travel rush” and “digital lucky money” were also presented, which greatly activated international students’ interest in Spring Festival.
After that, Zhang Mingzhu introduced some special customs of Spring Festival such as “replacing peach wood charms”, “playing firecrackers”, “reunion dinner”, “watching Spring Festival Gala”, “lion dance” and “doing Spring Festival shopping”. She vividly illustrated the original intentions and meanings of these customs.
Afterwards, international students put forward many interesting questions, like “Where do ‘firecrackers’ go after they are lit? Do they go up or not?”, “What is the difference between the Chinese characters of ‘nian’, the celestial animal, and ‘nian’ as in ‘year’?” The questions put forward by international students showed their strong interest and love for Chinese culture.
Next, Wang Chu took the custom of “replacing peach wood charms” as the introduction and presented an ancient poem Yuan Ri (The first day of Spring Festival) to international students. In the explanatory session, she carefully explained some key words in the poem, such as “Bao Zhu”(fireworks), “Tu Su”( herb wine), “Tong Tong”(brightness and warmth of sunrise), “Xin Tao”(new peach wood charms), allowing international students to understand this poem while appreciating the charm of the Chinese language.
After her presentation, Wang Chu, with her soft and emotional voice, invited international students to recite Yuan Ri together. Knowing very well that many basic Chinese learners struggle with pronunciation, especially the tones, she patiently demonstrated the correct pronunciations. Ms Li and two other presenters also helped the students to improve on their intonations one by one. This act instantly enlivened the class and the students read the poem more accurately.
Ms. Li and the presenters prepared Yuan Ri in a musical form to the students which they found easier. Finally, they recited the poem again with the music to end this fun-filled event.