Earlier this month, the UCD Confucius Institute for Ireland organized a series of Chinese culture classes for undergraduate students majoring in Commerce and Chinese Studies, where the students had the unique experience of working with Chinese water-ink paintings, Chinese martial arts and traditional Chinese musical instruments, including the ‘Guzheng’ (Chinese Harp), under the direction of Chinese teachers. The classes were warmly welcomed and highly commended by the students.
Picture 1. Students showing their water-ink paintings from their Chinese painting class
For the water-ink painting class, the UCD Confucius Institute especially invited Mr. Leifu Zhang, a young painter who learned his painting skills from the prestigious Chinese painting master—Baishi Qi’s descendant, Mr. Zhang lectured on the historical origins, characteristics of the different styles and representative works of famous painters from different times. Later, Mr. Zhang demonstrated the process of painting water-ink shrimps and pandas. Students were greatly enthused when witnessing the vivid water-ink shrimps and pandas coming to life step by step, and then they started to paint independently, allowing their creative side to come into play. With the guidance of Mr. Zhang, those Irish students who had no foundation in Chinese water-ink painting succeeded in creating their own water-ink paintings in just one class.
Professor Zhengjuan Liu, a martial arts expert with a Level 7 martial arts certificate took another culture class, introducing the charm of traditional Chinese martial arts to the students and guiding them into the pleasure of practicing martial arts. The students really enjoyed Professor Liu’s majestic performance. Later, the students gathered around Professor Liu in a semicircle, listening to the instructions and practicing the movements (Picture 2). With the professor’s guidance, they applied the Yin and Yang theories and their dialectical relationship which they learned from previous culture classes, into the process of learning Chinese martial arts; therefore they not only experienced this ancient Chinese cultural tradition on their own but also gained a better understanding of the background knowledge. At last, Professor Liu organized an interesting activity among the students: learning the basic martial arts self-defense.
Picture 2. Students practicing Chinese martial arts in their Chinese culture class
In order to enable the students to experience the unique charm of Chinese traditional music, the UCD Confucius Institute also organized another culture class centred on the ‘Guzheng’—a traditional Chinese musical instrument, and invited Miss Qianqian Cao to deliver a live performance. The students were enchanted by the beautiful melody of the ‘Fisherman’s Night Song’, an ancient Chinese musical masterpiece, and were amazed by Miss Cao’s excellent performance. Later, Miss Cao invited one of the students to the front of the class and taught him to play the tune ‘Auld Lang Syne’ on the Guzheng. Within 10 minutes, the melody was flowing from the fingers of this Irish boy who had never touched a Chinese Guzheng before, and all the other students were amazed and gave a warm applause (Picture 3).
After the class, the students expressed that these classes not only provided them with historic knowledge but also a more direct and profound understanding about traditional Chinese culture, and they looked forward to taking part in more activities like this in the future.
Picture 3. Student playing Auld Lang Syne on the Guzheng with the guidance of a Chinese teacher in the Chinese music class