On December 21st, to celebrate the occasion of Christmas and New Year, all the staff of the Confucius Institute in Dublin met in the cloud. It was a well-organized joyful celebration, and a welcome opportunity for all the teachers and volunteers to gather after a challenging year of working separately. More than 40 people attended the cloud gathering, including some who had worked with the Confucius Institute in previous years.
At the beginning of the gathering, Professor Liming Wang, director of the UCD Confucius Institute, gave a speech. Professor Wang began by greeting all attendees, including the teachers who had previously worked at the Institute and who had returned to celebrate with their colleagues. He acknowledged that this year’s gathering was quite different from previous ones, as previous celebrations had happened in person, and recognised that this was the same issue that teaching staff had experienced for the whole year – the isolation they faced, and the challenges they had overcome in learning to communicate, interact and teach using technology. Professor Wang expressed his recognition and admiration for the way the Institute staff had responded to these obstacles and successfully completed their teaching tasks.
Finally, he wished everyone a triple blessing of winter solstice, Christmas and New Year. Director Wei Zhang also sent holiday blessings to everyone and thanked all teachers for their hard work during the epidemic, especially the teachers who facilitated face-to-face teaching. He said that their selfless dedication to their students and the Institute under pressure and in spite of the risk was highly appreciated by the Institute. He also spoke of the current situation in relation to the Irish pandemic and emphasized the importance of staying safe during the Christmas break, and finished his speech by warmly wishing everyone a safe and happy holiday.
During the pandemic, teachers utilised their knowledge of various online platforms to organise their classrooms. This online celebration also greatly benefited from the use of online technology, which allowed staff to come together and celebrate with each other. Through the "Confession Wall", everyone typed what they wanted to say to the Confucius Institute on the screen for others to read.
The Confucius Institute not only undertakes Chinese language teaching, but is also dedicated to promoting Chinese culture. Three cultural performances took place during the celebration: a Yangqin (also known as dulcimer) performance by Xuan Yang, a martial arts performance by Qiyuan Huang, and a Yue opera performance by Amily. These excellent performances by the three teachers proved very popular among the audience.
Qiyuan Huang worked hard on his well-designed character puzzles, and introduced background knowledge about Christmas, Ireland, and the Confucius Institute through Kahoot games, which were very well-received by the audience. Next, Ms. Qingfang Yang played a video of blessings given to teachers by the students of the Confucius School for Children. Her skilful editing made these blessings shine, and touched the hearts of all who watched it. At the end of the event, the teachers who had taught at the Confucius Institute also sent their blessings to everyone, ending the event in a poignant and emotional note which everyone is sure to remember.
This event was a special gathering during the background of the pandemic. All crossed the barriers of time and space to meet in the cloud, exchanging good wishes and support with joy. Surely no celebration can last forever, but the thoughts and blessings shared with each other during such an extraordinary time in our lives will truly link us together in our memories forevermore.
（Edited by: Ting Duan; Translated by: Lichao Li）