Portland State CI ready for Spring Festival
Updated: 2015-02-17 11:12
By Lia Zhu in San Francisco(China Daily USA)
Confucius Institute teacher Chang Yao describes the origins of Chinese New Year. Provided to China Daily
The Confucius Institute at Portland State University is geared up to promote Chinese culture, taking advantage of the Chinese people's most important festival, the Chinese Lunar New Year, which falls on Feb 19 this year.
"Promoting Chinese culture means helping the world better understand the profound meaning behind the images," said Gao Mingqiang, co-director of the Confucius Institute at Portland State University. "Chinese New Year is rich in cultural elements, which provides a good opportunity that we can't miss."
Celebrating the Chinese New Year, or the Spring Festival, is a traditional program of the institute, which is among the major Confucius Institutes in the US. "But we try to present new features every year to attract more people from both the university and the local community," Gao said.
A Chinese language corner, themed Speak Chinese, Talk about New Year and Welcome the Year of Ram, is one of the new features of this year's celebration.
The event was held last week in Lan Su Chinese Garden, a walled, south China-style garden in Portland, to reach out to the local community.
"At first only a few visitors stopped and listened to our story about the origination of the Chinese New Year, but later dozens of people gathered around," said Chang Yao, the event's organizer and teacher at the Confucius Institute.
"Some of them are learning Chinese now, and some used to live in China," she said. "There are also some loyal 'fans' who are seen at most of our activities."
For this event, Chang and her colleague brought some must-have decorations for the Chinese Spring Festival, like New Year scrolls, Chinese knots and traditional New Year posters. They also taught the visitors how to make Chinese knots and to do Chinese paper-cutting.
"They are all very interested in Chinese festivals," said Chang. She was most impressed by a student who later made a short animation about the Qixi Festival, often known as the Chinese Valentine's Day, after he learned about the festival.
As part of a series of events celebrating the Chinese New Year, the institute is also going to have a Chinese dumpling party and its signature Spring Festival party.
This year, more people have been invited to give performances, including professional performers, faculty members and students, as well as members from local organizations, Gao said. The audience is also expected to come from various sectors, from kindergarten children to senior citizens.
"In order to show the audience that Chinese is not difficult to learn, we will invite non-Chinese native speakers as the party hosts," Gao said.
The Spring Festival party has become popular through the institute's promotion on media and social network, as well as word of mouth. "This year, we expect the audience exceeding 1,000," Gao said.
Established in 2007, the Confucius Institute at Portland State University is the 11th of its kind in the US and the first in the Northwest. It has enrolled 12,000 school students now and more than 8,000 others are taking short-term courses.
"Despite the 50 teachers we have now, we are short of Chinese teachers, facing the high demand in Chinese education," Gao said.