CA Event: Thursday Night Calligraphy Crash Course


On May 18th at 7pm, international students gathered in H-214 to learn about the traditional art of Chinese calligraphy. This event is held each semester by the Campus Advisor program to provide both full-time and exchange students an opportunity to try their hand at brush calligraphy. This wonderful cultural experience is prepared and sponsored by the Campus Advisor (CA) program.

The event started with a brief introduction of the Chinese script. Edison, a Campus Advisor, talked about the evolution of calligraphy and the comparison between simplified forms and their traditional counterparts. Traditional characters are more like pictures and even if you don’t know the exact meaning, you can sometimes guess it by interpreting the meaning from each individual character. However, when Edison showed the evolution of “tiger”, international students all laughed as even Chinese CAs cannot tell the meaning of traditional form of tiger.

For those who have never dabbled in calligraphy, merely understanding the correct form for holding a calligraphy brush (maobi) is already a challenge. That’s why the CAs started off by teaching students how to hold the maobi correctly. It might seem hard to write a Chinese character with many strokes, but if broken down into vertical and horizontal strokes, it is much more manageable. PHBS exchange student Chiara Christoffersen is a left-handed person and thus calligraphy was even harder for her. But with the guidance of Campus Advisor Daniel and the help of the other CAs, Chiara can even write her Chinese name, 孙亦蕾.

After a while, the international students became more comfortable as calligraphers and so Daniel introduced more complicated characters. Eventually traditional square calligraphy paper was given to students they took to their final creations—writing 福 (happiness and fortune). This character is usually written on red paper during the Chinese New Year and is hung upside down to symbolize that happiness and fortune have arrived. For the night’s finale, everyone wrote 福 on the red papers and brought them back as souvenirs for the night.

After a group picture, everyone got to take home plush Chinese knots in addition to their own creations to adorn their rooms.

Students with their souvenirs of the night

Reported by  Yammy Wang and Megan Mancenido