Celebrating Duanyang in the poetry and talent competition, tasting delicacies from three countries
——Confucius Institute at University of Abomey-Calavi in Benin holds Duanwu Festival celebrations

[Source]    the Confucius Institute at University of Abomey-Calavi [Time]    2015-07-06 15:22:08 

Folk costumes of various colors, the poem Bring in the Wine with resounding melodies, the graceful and sweet song Another Side of River, delicious and fragrant zongzi (traditional Chinese glutinous rice dumplings), and spicy “fufu” (a delicacy of Benin)… From June 18th to 19th, the big classroom of the Confucius Institute at University of Abomey-Calavi in Benin was immersed in the sound of singing and fragrance of delicious food. More than 100 teachers and students participated in the “Poetry and Talent Competition” and “Delicacies Gala” held by the Confucius Institute to celebrate the Duanwu Festival.

On June 18th, 37 contestants from the Chinese program of the Confucius Institute and all its teaching sites celebrated the Duanwu Festival together through reciting, performing or singing some 20 ancient and modern Chinese poems that they carefully selected.


Contestants carefully preparing for the competition


At the “Poetry Competition”

Adapting Full Moon over the West Attic, a poem which sounds familiar to every Chinese ear, into a song, the guitar player Dauda Madu Joseph and the keyboard player Daniel Ehiagwina from the band of the Confucius Institute staged a special performance in which they sang while playing the violin and electronic organ, which was warmly responded by the audience with applause and cheers.

After the fierce competition, the students of the Chinese program Elysée Kahomey and Daniel Ehiagwina were both awarded with the first place in the recitation category with their performances of Qu Yuan and Mistake, and Jonathan Amawhe won the first place of the talent category with his singing of the poem Ever-flowing Yangtze River.


Chinese and Beninese directors presenting awards to the prize-winner

On June 19th, after the talk on folk customs of the Duanwu Festival by Dr. Julien A. Gaétan  Segbo, Beninese Director of the Confucius Institute, another highlight of the series of events, the Duanwu Delicacies Gala officially started. Apart from learning to make and tasting zongzi, the students also enthusiastically made the delicacies of their own countries.


Students learning to make zongzi

The “highlight” of all activities was learning to make zongzi. In order to help the students remember the making steps, the Chinese teacher Ms. Wang Shuangfeng came up with some quick reminders and explained while demonstrating them, “Folding as the first step, attaching the second, filling the third, pressing the fourth, covering the fifth, piling the sixth, wrapping the seventh and boiling the eighth”. Although students learned these steps with full attention, they still made a lot of joking mistakes when they tried. Some of them couldn’t wrap all the rice; some didn’t tighten the knots of threads, and some others made zongzi into strange shapes. One of the students Ajac, after making two zongzi, shook her head and said, “It is too difficult. It seems simple, but I can’t wrap all the rice and some just goes out.”

After tasting the zongzi cooked beforehand, students from Benin and Nigeria presented the typical delicacies of their own countries. A student from Benin served every teacher a large plate of delicious and fragrant “fufu” and asked the teachers eagerly, “My dear teacher, does it taste good? This is what we Beninese people like most.” All the teachers were so happy and nodding their heads while eating “fufu”.

Amid the laughter and happy singing, people from three countries who speak three different languages and eat three types of food came together and enjoyed themselves like a big family. A Nigerian student said quite excitedly, “I feel very happy to participate in this activity to celebrate the Duanwu Festival because I can experience traditional Chinese folk customs. I am even happier when I see that Chinese teachers who have traveled long distance to join us taste our food. I hope that there will be more opportunities to participate in events held by the Confucius Institute and I wish I can study Chinese at the Institute.”

Story/Photograph by Zhang Awei/Deng Ling


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