Sesame Street takes on a Chinese theme

By Zhang Ruinan in New York | China Daily USA | Updated: 2017-12-05 11:31

Sesame Street takes on a Chinese theme

The CCTV children's hosts Ju Ping (center, in dark blue dress), Chen Su (fi rst from right), Geng Chenchen (second from right) and Huang Wei (left) were joined by Sesame Street's furry friends Big Bird, Cookie Monster, Elmo and Lily as well as American children on Sesame Street’s set in New York during fi lming on Nov 28 and Nov 29. PHOTO PROVIDED TO CHINA DAILY

For the first time ever, Hooper's Store, the Fix-It Shop and Laundromat of the iconic set of Sesame Street are being decorated with Chinese lanterns and Fu characters.

The nearly half-century-old children's program is shooting the 2018 Chinese New Year special with CCTV (China Central Television) Children's Channel, showcasing Chinese New Year customs for kids in both China and the US.

"Our collaboration on the special started in 2014, which was themed 'Let's Celebrate New Year!'" said Ju Ping, a popular Chinese children's television host on CCTV Children's Channel. "We are trying to introduce Chinese traditions, a critical part of Chinese culture, to children through this program, which makes it easier for kids to understand."

The relationship between the Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit educational media organization behind the show, and CCTV Children's Channel began 36 years ago with the Big Bird in China specialbroadcast in 1983 on NBC.

CCTV children hosts, including Ju Ping, Chen Su (Red Apple), Geng Chenchen (Green Bubble) and Huang Wei, were joined by Sesame Street's Big Bird, Cookie Monster, Elmo, and Lily, as well as American children from Chinese immersion programs in New York during the two-day filming on Tuesday and Wednesday.

"The most important thing for me is that the Sesame Workshop invited many American children to film the show with our crew, and I'm amazed and glad to see they all can speak very fluent Chinese," said Ju. "Although all the segments are filmed in Chinese, we had no barriers to communicate with the kids at all.

"One of them has studied Chinese for over nine years, and another younger kid named Richard started to study Chinese when he was only one year old," Ju added.

"We hope the program will not only be broadcast in China but also in Asia, in the US and other countries around the world," said Shirley Zhu, vice-president of the Greater China for Sesame Street Workshop. "Through this, the Chinese language, Chinese traditional customs and the culture behind it can be delivered to kids around the world."

Zhu said the two teams had collaborated before on the Chinese New Year's theme, but this year, the program will elaborate on some of the customs in more detail, such as the reunion dinner and legends.

"Because 2018 is the year of the dog, we specially added a new puppet named Happy Gogo in our show," said Zhu.

"Filming with Sesame Street and these American children allows our channel to open a window for Chinese children to see how kids at their ages in another country are living and studying," said Xu Bin, deputy controller of CCTV Children's Channel. "I also hope these American kids will have an opportunity to go to China in person to experience Chinese culture."

"This partnership reflects a successful cultural exchange that we value deeply, and our co-produced programming demonstrates a powerful appreciation of each other's differences and similarities,"said Steve Youngwood, COO of Sesame Workshop.

Sesame Workshop has been reaching and teaching children since 1969 and now covers more than 150 countries. It opened its China office in 2013. Its programs are available on China's top online video platforms, reaching more than 370 million viewers there.


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