The Chinese Cultural Event Co-Hosted by UCD Confucius Institute for Ireland and Galway Education Centre Confucius Classroom
The Galway Shopping Centre was packed with visitors for a unique event on February 18, 2017—Chinese Cultural Experience. Paper-cut, calligraphy, guzheng (zither), face painting and tai chi were among the many fun-packed activities. Minister of State for Gaeltacht Affairs and Natural Resources, West Galway Fine Gael T.D. Seάn Kyne, Director of Galway Education Centre Mr Bernard Kirk, along with 400 local residents participated in the event. In an interview with Galway Bay FM, Mr Kirk gave a brief introduction to the Confucius Classroom at Galway Education Centre and the courses it offers.
A Chinese classic piece titled ‘Song of the Fishing Boat at Dusk’ played on the Chinese instrument guzheng, opened the celebration. Without the accompaniment of any modern musical instruments, the ancient instrument created the sounds of the gentlest whispers and bouncing rain drops with its subtle strings but simple expressions. Visitors were enchanted with the beautiful melody. Some lucky ones were invited to try the ancient Chinese musical instrument.
The art of Paper-cutting is very popular in China for its long history and rich content. Staff selected Chinese characters for double happiness and spring, Chinese pictures such as window decorations and lanterns for demonstration: folding the paper, draw the pattern, cut the paper; the whole process is full of magic and cultural information. Participants gained a hands-on experience and produced many beautiful items.
Chinese expressions such as solid strokes with full ink, floating clouds and water, powerful and playful like a flying dragon, all describe the various styles and forms of Chinese calligraphy and its significance in the Chinese culture. Visitors were offered two experiences- learn how to pronounce, write and use the Chinese character for blessing/fortune; get a Chinese name and have their names written with Chinese character and pronunciation. Many participants even got Chinese names for their families and friends who couldn’t make it to the event.
As part of the celebration, the audience were captivated by the traditional Tai chi performance. Garreth Hodgins, a secondary school teacher, is a huge fan of Chinese culture, especially tai chi and martial arts. With over 10 years of learning experience from England and other countries and regions, Mr Hodgins has become a master of tai chi chuan and tai chi sword. He enrolled in the Masters programme of Teaching Chinese Language and Culture, jointly run by UCD Confucius Institute for Ireland and UCD Irish Institute for Chinese Studies. Mr Hodgins will become one of the first batch of local teachers delivering Chinese language and culture course in Irish secondary schools in the near future. When he heard about this event, Mr Hodgins drove to Galway and demonstrated tai chi sword with his friend voluntarily. Their performance attracted the loudest applause.
The face painting stall became children’s favourite part of the event. The talented staff created a colourful visual display of Chinese culture. Children’s faces were painted from Irish flag and shamrock to Chinese flag, Chinese eight diagrams, Chinese characters and rooster (one of the 12 Chinese zodiac animals), with bright colours and vibrant strokes. Having Chinese characters on their faces became children’s favoured choices. With their pictographic features, historic connotations, cultural associations and graceful structure and shapes, Chinese characters offer children visual and artistic beauty, and help create interest in learning the Chinese language.
In addition, those who tried two activities at the event received a well-thought-out Chinese gift. Experienced staff members of the Confucius Institute had a great opportunity for promoting their excellent courses by answering questions from and offering advice to the local residents.