Small Stamp Condenses Rich Culture--GSU Confucius Institute Co-sponsors Festival Celebrating the Lunar New Year

[Source]    GSU Confucius Institute [Time]    2011-01-25 10:59:56 

To celebrate the release ceremony, the Confucius Institute held a ‘Chinese zodiac cultural festival’ to introduce the traditional Chinese spring festival customs and the culture of Chinese zodiac to locals.

Children and parents making rabbit paper cuts under the guidance of the Institute volunteers

To begin with, the institute American Director Prof. Gu Baotong presided over a special reading club. The stamp designer, Mr. Kam Mak, introduced his new book entitled “My Chinatown” to the audience, and recited a few segments of poems from the book. With the introduction to Chinese culture and customs, the audience gained a better understanding about the design of the stamp.

The rabbit year stamp exhibition held by the Institute attracted a large number of visitors. During the six rabbit years from 1951 to 2011, many countries around the world have published related stamps to celebrate the Chinese spring festival, including the first rabbit year stamp in the world published in Japan, the newly published rabbit year stamp by China and some other commemorative stamps published to celebrate the Year of the Rabbit by St. Vincent, Tonga, the Marshall Islands and other countries as well.

Some stamp lovers not only perused the stamps carefully, but also continuously aked questions of the Institute staff and even shot pictures of their favorite ones with their cameras. Some visitors showed deep interest in the Chinese zodiac and Chinese era system. They calculated their symbolic animals of their birth year based on the information showed on the display board. The majority of them stated their high opinions of the exhibition, by saying that the exhibition provided them with a valuable opportunity to gain a better understanding about Chinese zodiac stamps and the culture of the Chinese zodiac.

The arrival of Mr. Kam Mak was a highlight of the event. He regarded the displaying board with high interest and put the newly released stamp in the reserved place. The American Director Gu Baotong presented Mr. Kam Mak with the stamp. Mr. Kam Mak then stated how appreciative he was to the Institute for hosting such an excellent show. In addition, Mr. Kam Mak wrote four Chinese characters reading “xin nian kuai ke” (Happy New Year) to send his blessings to the Institute.

Apart from the stamp exhibition, a large variety of activities were also staged for the locals, such as ‘choose your Chinese names’, “how to use Chinese chopsticks’, ‘makingpaper-cuts’, ‘let’s draw rabbits together’, ‘mailing spring festival cards to the White House’, along with a variety of other activies. A long line of people were waiting eagerly for the Institute teacher to give them Chinese names. Seeing their names expressed in Chinese characters and pinyin, they became excited and cheerful. Even the Postal Services staff also came to join the queue, and some people who had already been given Chinese names were not satisfied with only themselves having Chinese names, and asked for ones for their friends and families. They said that they cherished a strong interest in the Chinese language and getting a Chinese name is another step forward to participating in Chinese culture.

Mr. Kam Mak presenting the Confucius Institute an inscription reading “Happy New Year”

The activity of ‘making paper-cuts’ attracted a lot of young participants. Under the guidance of the Confucius Institute teachers, they took up scissors and paper, cutting the form of a rabbit carefully. Seeing lovely rabbits being cut out by children, some parents could not help but join in the cutting group.

In front of the booth for ‘mailing spring festival cards to the White House’, Chinese designer Travis Tom not only brought his work, a beautiful postcard illustrating the Year of the Rabbit, but also signed it together with the children and sent it to the White House.

In addition, both the ‘how to use Chinese chopsticks’ and the ‘let’s draw rabbits together’ were warmly welcomed by the visitors, with cheers and continuous laughter wafting in the air of the event. During the activity, some locals asked the Institute staff questions concerning China and the Institute. They stated that the Institute had provided them a valuable opportunity to explore China’s culture.

This is the first time for the Postal Services to release a stamp in southern cities, as well as the first experience for them to connect stamps with culture. The success of the event initiated several firsts in the history of the Institute:

First, cooperation between the Confucius Institute and the American government, which means that the Institute exerted effort to contact mainstream society and explored a new channel to spread Chinese culture;

Second, inviting American families with adopted Chinese children to participate in the event, giving them a chance to experience Chinese culture, and helping them to better participate in Sino-American cultural exchange;

Third, not only the Chinese community but also other Asian communities such as the Korean community and the Vietnamese community were invited in this event, which protrudes the leading role played by the Confucius Institute in the local cultural activites.

The ‘2011 stamp releasing ceremony and the Chinese zodiac culture and art festival’ is just the beginning of the celebration series that will be held by the Institute. In the following one month, the Institute will hold large scale business cocktail parties, and spring festival galas. The institute will spare no effort to make more contributions to spreading Chinese language and Chinese culture.

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