Confucius Institute at Bangor University, UK, holds Chinese Culture Seminar and Experience Activities for Postgraduates
On 14 March 2014, the Confucius Institute at Bangor University held a one-day activity for over 130 postgraduate students (PGCE) from the School of Education to discuss and experience Chinese culture. PGCE is short for Postgraduate certificate in education, and the students are all major in teaching. The activities included introductions to Chinese education system, teaching experience in China, Chinese geography and history, cooking and food culture, music and dance, Chinese calligraphy, Chinese language audition, Taiji Fan practice and so forth. Through these cultural activities, it was hoped to demonstrate to the students in what ways the Confucius Institute could support them in their future elementary school teaching.
Hosted by Elin, the activities started with a brief introduction of the Confucius Institute made by Executive Director David, followed by an introduction of Chinese education system, teaching methods and existing problems from Chinese Director Zhang Liying. Madam Jane Love, Vice Principal of Colwyn Bay Penybryu School, shared the experience of her school’s collaboration with an international school with over 8,000 students in Shijiazhuang, the capital city of North China's Hebei Province. Just as Professor Zhang mentioned, Madam Love also found striking differences between China and Wales in teaching methods, students’ growing environments as well as their personalities and learning styles during the collaboration. She said that China’s economy is rapidly developing, so it will be worthwhile to experience teaching in China, and as the Chinese language will enjoy wider popularity in Wales, studying Chinese will give one an edge when he hunts for a job in future.
David presented a refreshing and interesting lecture on Chinese geography and history. He compared China’s geographic location with that of European cities, so that the students could get a better picture of China. He first introduced China’s mountain ranges and river systems, and then Chinese history in time sequence, namely the Xia Dynasty, the Shang Dynasty, the Zhou Dynasty, the Spring and Autumn and Warring States periods, the Qin Dynasty, the Han Dynasty, the Tang Dynasty, Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms, the Song Dynasty, the Yuan Dynasty, the Ming Dynasty, the Qing Dynasty, and modern China as well, with comparison to the corresponding times in Europe. David also showed some photos he had taken during his trip to China and shared his travel experiences and feelings. In the Q&A session, the students asked him questions regarding issues such as Chinese countryside, the one-child policy, Chinese education system, Chinese ethnic minorities and so on.
David comparing the history of Chinese dynasties with that of the West when giving a lecture
Sponsored by the Garden Hotel, the lecture on Chinese cooking and food culture centered on Chinese table manners, the use of chopsticks and the eight major cuisines in China. In addition, the students got to taste traditional Chinese food in person. As for traditional Chinese music and dance, Ms. Zi Lan first explained to the students the characteristics of traditional Chinese music and then performed Guzheng (Chinese plucked zither, a traditional Chinese musical instrument) for them. She also taught them the Chinese ribbon dance, which they may include in their future elementary teaching activities. Ms. Li Yan briefly introduced Chinese calligraphy and then taught the students some simple Chinese characters and expressions. The students were very excited to write characters with Chinese brushes for the first time, and each of them learnt several Chinese expressions after class. In order for the students to better understand Chinese ethnic minority culture, Ms. Yu Meng had them put on the traditional costumes of ethnic minorities, and gave a vivid explanation of the culture, with the atmosphere very lively. Last, Ms. Li Zhihui showed the students how to practice Chinese Taiji Fan. All the students learnt very carefully the gesture and motion. She also introduced Chinese folk songs to them.
The students learning the Chinese ribbon dance
Ms. Li Zhihui teaching the students Chinese Taiji Fan
When the activities concluded, Elin assembled the students to gather their feedback. Everyone enjoyed themselves and thought highly of the activities for the diversity. The students learned for the first time about Chinese history, geography, education system, cooking and food culture, and they as well picked up a little Chinese, some customs of Chinese ethnic minorities and Chinese Kung Fu. Dozens of students expressed their hope to participate in the summer camp so that they could go to China and learn more about China.