Learning New Year’s Customs by Making Dumplings—Report of the Confucius Institute at the University of Poitiers’ Lunar New Year Festival Activity Series

[Source]    Confucius Institute at the University of Poitiers [Time]    2012-02-15 11:02:20 

Although they lacked the stunning sound of firecrackers, students at the Confucius Institute at the University of Poitiers were able to fully appreciate the “flavor” of China’s Lunar New Year Festival.

Recently, the Confucius Institute at the University of Poitiers has made meticulous preparations for a series of Lunar New Year Festival gatherings, adding a deep Chinese “flavor” to the Lunar New Year Festival in Poitiers. The Confucius Institute organized each class of students to hold two successive “dumpling banquet” activities in a Chinese restaurant replete with the atmosphere of the Lunar New Year Festival with red lanterns and the Chinese character for “happiness”. The teachers painstakingly prepared a small lecture introducing the origins and customs of China’s Lunar New Year, and students joined with the teachers in exchanging New Year’s blessings in Chinese.

The highlight of the activities was when the students made dumplings under their teachers’ guidance and ate them, creating an authentic “dumpling banquet”. Teachers of the Confucius Institute took the lead in coming on stage to demonstrate how to knead and roll the dough. Their skillful and quick motions caused some of the students to let out a sigh, lamenting how hard it would be to make dumplings. Several students wasted no energy and picked up rolling pins, and before long the others also joined the dumpling making team. Some kneaded the dough, some rolled it, and others folded the dumplings, experiencing the pleasure of making dumplings while engaging in an interactive exchange experience. Even gentlemen were unwilling to fall behind, with one husband holding his masterpiece up to his wife, exclaiming with delight, “Making dumplings isn’t hard! We can make these at home on the weekend!” Soon, the table was completely covered with dumplings resembling gold ingots. The students still wished for more and surrounded the teachers, asking them questions such as how to prepare the filling and where to buy rolling pins, since they each planned to try it on their own at home.

Finally, the students sat together in a circle and tried their very own hand-made dumplings and distinctive Chinese dishes, experiencing the atmosphere of a Chinese “New Year’s dinner”. The students expressed that in the past they had only heard their teacher talk about and saw pictures of the Chinese Lunar New Year Festival, but this time they were able to finally experience the “flavor” the China’s Lunar New Year Festival for themselves.

(Reporting by Ma Huanjie, photography by Bai Yaqing)