Chinese Language Center introduces international students to Spring Festival activities
One of the most important customs during Chinese New Year is cutting the “春” (‘spring’) character out of paper and preparing Spring Festival couplets. As the coming year is the Year of the Rat, besides the character “春”, the CLC students cut out mice, and also tried their hands with calligraphy, writing “春”, “福” (‘happiness’) and “吉祥” (‘good fortune’) to understand the symmetry of Chinese characters, learn new words, and get to know traditional Chinese culture and calligraphy art. Many students had heard about calligraphy but never held a calligraphy brush. The characters they wrote were pretty good, although they didn’t hold the brush in the proper way. To make the international students experience the atmosphere of the Spring Festival, Chinese Language Center also prepared wooden molds and traditional bamboo steamer baskets to teach the students to make red tortoise cakes. Many of the students have never eaten this traditional snack and were very curious how to prepare it.
One of the most popular games played during Chinese New Year is mahjong. The Center asked members of the Mahjong Club to organize a mahjong lesson. The participating international students were very enthusiastic about the game and progressed quickly, choosing the best tiles and learning the scoring rules. Most of the students considered this “Chinese board game” difficult to learn but agreed it’s a great way to integrate with the Taiwanese community.
Every year the Sanfong Central Street in Kaohsiung is filled with people buying gifts and other merchandise, so it was the best place for the CLC students to experience the Chinese culture, customs and festive atmosphere of the Spring Festival. Yung-Chen Lee, a long-time teacher at CLC, meticulously organized the trip route for the students to visit Sunfong Temple, eat fresh food and see Spring Festival merchandise sold on Sanfong Central Street, try traditional snacks on Sanmin market and fully experience the atmosphere of the Chinese New Year festivities.
What distinguishes the Sunfong Temple is that it is devoted to a child deity - San Tai Zi. The guide explained the imagery in the rich ornaments of Taiwanese Buddhist and Taoist temples. The students were curious about how people worship deities and draw divination sticks. One by one, they drew sticks and carefully read the divination lots, which is another way to learn Chinese. Walking towards the street with festival merchandise, the students were astonished at the variety of dried foods and cookies and could not resist these delicacies. Red ornaments and calligraphy masters writing characters on spot attracted everybody’s attention.
(Edited by Public Affairs Division)