Event report - CEEDS “Chinese Day” at Cambridge Leys School, 1st February 2014

On the second day of the Chinese New Year, CEEDS held a ‘Chinese Day’ event in the Leys School of Cambridge. This event has been inspired by the British Prime Minister’s visit to China, which promotes a deepening communication between two cultures. With the support from the Cultural Office, Embassy of China in London and various individuals, the ‘Chinese Day’ welcomed over 50 pupils and parents from local schools in Cambridge.

Pupils arriving and registering

CEEDS staff giving programmes and handouts

First pupils arrived at 9.30. Like others, they were welcomed in the nicely decorated Great Hall, which was newly opened last week by Prince Edward, the Earl of Wessex. The Chinese new year decorations all around and Guzhen music playing all created a nice and warm ambience for the festival day. At the beginning, Mrs. Muston, the Head of International support welcomed all the pupils and encouraged them to make the best of the day since apart from the fun, the experience may well be beneficial to their future at some point. CEEDS presenter thanked the Leys School and passed the congratulation from the Chinese Embassy.  

Head of International Support giving a welcoming speech

Guqin performance at the beginning

The first workshop of the day started right after the beautiful Guqin performance. Language is always a most important access to a culture and the mandarin lesson was much anticipated. Shanshan, a PhD student from Cambridge University, gave a lecture to the audience, introducing the basics of Mandarin. At the beginning, the lecture aroused the pupils’ interest by listing reasons why Mandarin is not that difficult. After introducing the pronunciation and writing system of the language, Shanshan gave each of the pupils some handouts, so that they may practice basic expressions, freely with all the Mandarin-speaking CEEDS staff. 

PhD student from Cambridge gave a lecture on Mandarin

CEEDS member practicing with the pupils

Next came the time with the Chinese paper and brushes. Chinese painting master Mr. Cavaciuti from Cambridge Pine Studio showed the curious pupils the ‘four treasures of the study’. He then showed the skills by painting some bamboo, one of the most popular objects in Chinese painting. Everyone got a brush and piece of paper, starting to try the ‘tricks’. At the other side, Yanbo from the University was first introducing the history of Chinese calligraphy to the pupils, then showed the basic strokes before giving each pupil the chance to practice by themselves. The calligraphy session culminated when everyone was brushing out a spring couplet on a strip of red paper, which is one important tradition to celebrate the Chinese New Year.  

Chinese painting master Mr. Cavaciuti teaching the pupils

Pupils practicing with the teacher

Teacher Yanbo showing how to hold the brush pen

Spring couplet by pupils

Through painting and calligraphy, everyone has been motivated to ‘give it a go’, when they came to the ‘dumpling’ workshop. Two chefs from Oriental Café brought pastry and fillings for dumplings, showed pupils how to make them and in different beautiful shapes. Pupils just couldn’t wait to try themselves. We can tell from the raised eyebrows that the chefs were not quite sure about the creativity pupils showed in different ‘dumplings’, but everyone was indeed having a great time! After a lunch and dumplings, pupils came to Ms. Xi Chen’s tea ceremony with amazement by all the delicate tea sets. Xi performed the tea ceremony with different tealeaves and explained each step very clearly. Her graceful handling the little cups, coupled with fun instructions, attracted everyone’s attention and interest, who later all got a chance to sip the traditional Chinese tea.  

Chef from Oriental Café showing making dumplings

Pupils making their dumplings

Xi Chen at the Tea Ceremony

Pupils watching the Tea Ceremony with much enthusiasm

The final workshops of the ‘Chinese Day’ are Kungfu and Chinese Dancing. Ms. Meng Yuan from Oriental Dancing Society brought traditional Chinese costumes like dresses, fans, ribbons and others. After some practice, the newly trained ‘dancers’ were following their teacher and making beautiful moves. Back in the Great Hall, the much awaited Kungfu session were having five masters from Pachi Tanglang Martial arts Institute. The master group performed Pachi, Tanglang and Bagua and then invited pupils to the stage and practice with them.

  

Ms. Yuan leading the dancing workshop

Ribbon dancing by pupils

Martial Arts performance

Coaching martial arts

 Time flied! Within the day, the pupils learned a bit of language, handled brushes, tasted dumplings and tea, and practiced dancing and kungfu. This is probably the first time for most pupils to get in close touch with Chinese culture. Hope this experience is joyful and unforgettable for them, also helpful in the near future! 

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