This past Tuesday, October 1st, 2013, Confucius Institute at Presbyterian College held its largest event of the semester: first Chinese Language Day. It took months of preparation and featured an audience of over one hundred local middle school children and Presbyterian college students. It was an all-day event, packed with activities for students who most haven’t even ever taken a Chinese class to learn the culture and the language.
The students from Laurens 56 started off the day by sitting in on Dr. Kejian Jin’s Chinese calligraphy class; where they got to interact and learn some calligraphy themselves from Dr. Jin’s students. After that they got a tour to CI garden and CI library led by Bin Li.
Meanwhile, the students from Laurens 55 took a tour, given by Dr. Jin, of the International House, CIH offices, and the Confucius Institute’s Library. At the library the students got the opportunity to look through different Chinese books of their interest.
Then the main assembly begun in which all of the students, including Presbyterian College students, filed into the gym above Springs. The assembly initiated when the first speaker, Dr. Peggy Prescott, started her presentation on her trip to China. This presentation consisted of her personal experiences and activities that she had/did on her trip to China. After this Dr. Jin started her presentation on Chinese Character and Calligraphy in which she taught the students some Chinese words, explained their history, and how they came to be. By the end of the presentation all the students knew some Chinese.
In the next part of the assembly, students from Dr. Jin’s tai chi class put on a great dragon dance performance and then put on an outstanding tai chi performance as well. Then the Tai Chi Master came out and put on a spectacular piece that was extremely well choreographed and very fluid with the music. She used props such as a sword and Chinese fan; and each had its own exquisite routine accordingly. Afterwards some Laurens 56 students put on their own Chinese Number performance directed by Bin Li. Bin Li then followed their performance with an exciting traditional Chinese ethnic dance.
Once the assembly, presentations, and performances were over the students got the chance to go try out some of the things they had learned about that day. We had five booths set up each with a different activity. One of the booths let the students try to use chopsticks to pick up different types of food and if they were able to pick them up they could eat them! Another booth focused on Chinese calligraphy and the students were able to draw their own traditional Chinese calligraphy. At Bin Li’s booth, students gathered around to watch her present a traditional tea ceremony. Across the gym, at the Chinese checkers booth, students were taught how to play Chinese checkers and got to play as well. The other booth featured traditional paper cutting. Then there were groups that were playing with the shuttlecock and a jump-roping area as well. The entire gym was full of students and staff alike, enjoying themselves in the best ways possible while learning about Chinese culture.
The food arrived right as everyone was getting hungry from all the great activities, and we all rushed to get Chinese food ordered by Confucius Institute. There was a variety of choices with plenty to go around. It was very delicious and everyone enjoyed it.
The final activity of the night followed dinner was the Chinese corner. We had over six students prepare presentations for the Chinese corner that night. Each student presented a feature of Chinese geography, like Kevin Dean, for example, created a presentation on the Yangze River; while Bailey Dunlap presented on Tianjin, a city near Beijing. Then Mr. Chen held a trivia contest where he asked common questions about China’s geography and culture and those who answered correctly got a neat prize! It was a fun and interesting way to learn about China.
Months of preparation had payed off and the first Chinese Language Day was a huge success. The students had a ton of fun and learned so much of China’s language, culture, geography, and the Confucius Institute’s program at Presbyterian College. We hope that we have inspired them to want to learn more about each of these and taught them a great deal as well. It was a day full of exciting activities and learning by all that attended; we can’t wait until next year’s Chinese Language Day!