Chinese New Year, also known as Spring Festival, is the most significant festival in Chinese culture. For most foreign students, Spring Festival is a very special experience that will forever stand out from their study life in China. On 17th January, an unforgettable party was held at the new Home for International Friends in the first floor of Building 3. The new space provided a perfect environment for foreign students to enjoy the celebration and culture of Chinese New Year.
Most importantly, to probably celebrate China’s largest holiday you must have a feast. The tables in the room were loaded with fruit, pizza and wonderful drinks. Around 30 guests and volunteers from University Town joined in the event to welcome all the foreign friends. The host, PKU Shenzhen International Affairs Coordinator Nathan Faber, introduced University Town Party Secretary Liu Jinghui, the leader behind the project, to the stage to officially mark the opening of the Home for International Friends. He mentioned how he hopes the Home for International Friends will benefit the whole community by becoming a lively space for international students, PKU students, and the greater Nanshan community to interact and participate in cultural exchange.
After Mr. Liu’s speech, the wonderful cultural performances started. Traditional music is the best way of showing the charm of C`hinese culture. Professor Chen Jie, from Harbin Railway Technical College, performed his own masterful erhu solo. The melodious sound of erhu, an instrument with a 1000 year history, brightened the room and transported everyone to the vast grasslands, flowing water, and the quiet moonlight of ancient China. Then, retired teachers, Cen Xiaoling and Chen Quanbin sang two beautiful songs accompanying the erhu, Me and My Country and Friends Forever. Me and My Country is a classical Chinese song that expresses love to the homeland. Friends Forever praised the preciousness of friendship and reminded us not forget old friends when making new friends. The musical trio’s performance was captivating and done with infectious enthusiasm.
During the Chinese New Year, Spring Festival Couplets are a required part of preparing for the holiday season for each house. People paste Spring Festival Couplets on the both sides of the gates. The words of spring poems always express people’s best wishes to the new year. There is also the character “Fu (福)” on red paper which means happiness and luck and is also pasted on gate and windows. In ancient China, without modern printing, calligraphers used to write Spring Festival Couplets and Fu on red paper with ink brushes to give their relatives and friends. At the party, Director of the Taoyuan School of Calligraphy, Chen Linzhou and Teacher Fang Chengtu taught the foreign students how to write Fu in various typefaces. They also taught foreign students to write their Chinese name. Most students showed great interest in Chinese calligraphy and had a try under the guidance of the two masters. The teachers also wrote several pairs of couplets as gifts to foreign students. These Spring Festival Couplets carried the New Year wishes to foreign friends, just like the old Chinese saying: The gift is trifling but the feeling is profound (礼轻情意重).
The whole party was full of a happy atmosphere. Everyone enjoyed talking with friends, writing calligraphy, and playing games. Some foreign students were absorbed in playing Jenga, a internationally popular game, that was given a Chinese New Year twist with fun challenges and prizes. Although the participants from China and all over the world had language barriers and different cultural backgrounds, games and laughter became a bridge for everyone to interact and learn.
We will cherish the friendship of each other and remember this happy time. May blessings be with you every day be like the song Friends Forever:
The sky is also thick,
Mountain is high while water flowing,
May we have good friends everywhere.
Written by Zhang Wendou
Photos by Zhang Wendou