Bury the Seeds of Traditional Chinese Culture in the Hearts of Polish Students
“The silent mouth of a spring cherishes the thin streamlet, the shadow of the trees is reflected in the water, and it loves the scene in the sunshine……”Many people are familiar with this poem—A Small Pond, written by the Yang Wanli, a Chinese poet during the Southern Song Dynasty (1127~1279), and so is Liu Chao, a teacher at Confucius Institute in Krakow, Poland. However, this poem has a special meaning for him.
In June last year, a Polish student, taught by Liu, won the only special award with unanimous recognition from the judges during the “Junior Chinese Bridge” competition by reciting this poem.
The “Junior Chinese Bridge” competition, held from May to June every year, is a traditional program at the Confucius Institute in Krakow. The pupils who learn Chinese participate in the event through rehearsing relevant programs that are related to Chinese culture. In general, students mainly sing or dance in the event. Liu however, organized students to rehearse poetry recital. During the event, three ancient Chinese poems, A Small Pond, Climbing White Stork Tower and A Spring Morning, were recited.
Liu has his own thought in choosing this kind of performance. He said that the students are familiar with these three poems during their daily learning. Moreover, compared with songs and dances, poetry recitation is more difficult and it could show the students’ results of Chinese learning, so that judges and the audience could directly know their Chinese learning situation. "I also hope that students could show themselves just like the lotus leaf in A Small Pond, added Liu.
The result of that competition was unexpectedly good, but Liu was not satisfied. He said that having his students recite poems are not only for the competition, but also in the hope of letting them get in touch with more ancient Chinese poetry in a bid to plant a seed of traditional Chinese culture in their hearts. Maybe their comprehension of poetry is not deep enough, but with further study, the students will gradually feel the beauty of the Chinese language and thus become more interested in it.
It is not only the students who gained benefits and inspiration. Liu himself also improved gradually during the process of teaching ancient Chinese poetry. “When I was a student, I read and memorized quite a few ancient poems too, but couldn’t fully understand their meanings. In the teaching process of recent years, I gradually felt their profound meanings.”
Liu has stepped into the fourth year of working in the Confucius Institute in Krakow. “The fallen petals are not as cruel as they seem, and will turn to soil to nurture the flowers in spring.” Liu used these two lines from Gong Zizhen’s poem to describe his job. He said that previously, he could not fully understand the sentiment in this poem, but in the working days away from home, seeing more and more Polish children became interested in the Chinese language and culture, a sense of accomplishment arose spontaneously.
At present, as traditional Chinese culture becomes more and more popular in Poland, ancient Chinese poetry weighs much heavier in teaching. Han Xinzhong, Chinese Director of the Confucius Institute in Krakow introduced that the Confucius Institute regularly holds Chinese poetry recitation, cultural salon and other cultural activities to introduce ancient Chinese poetry. In the Mid-Autumn Festival and other traditional festivals, the Confucius Institute will also introduce some classic works related to these festivals, for example, Prelude to Water Melody.
Han said that though it is more difficult for Polish Chinese learners to learn ancient Chinese poetry, these poems are of great benefit to them in learning about classic Chinese literature, learning Chinese and understanding Chinese culture.
Yang Sisi, a student from Sinology Department of University of Warsaw, said that the beautiful words of ancient Chinese poetry are easy to cause emotional resonance. "Poetry is the most commonly used form for ancient Chinese poets to express their ambitions and emotions," Yang said, "Many patriotic poets express their love for the motherland by praising its mountains and rivers, which can raise the sense of belonging of overseas Chinese.
Story by Shi Zhongyu, Han Mei, Chen Xu
Xinhua News Agency, Warsaw, Feb. 11th