When Spring Festival Meets Learning Chinese

[Source]    People’s Daily Overseas Edition [Time]    2018-02-13 16:18:11 

Spring Festival Gala in Small Desert Town

By Wang Xiuqing

Spring Festival is a traditional festival in China. But across the sea, in a little town called Banning in California, US, there has been a famous “Chinese Spring Festival Gala” to celebrate the lunar new year every year since 2012. This show was held at the Confucius Classroom of the Central Elementary School in town. The host would be me, the performers would be all the kids and their parents, along with the faculty of the school, and the audience would be the residents in town. For four consecutive years, the expectation of the local people for this show has been no less than that of the Chinese audience for the CCTV Spring Festival Gala.

2012 was my first year in the Central Elementary School in Banning, and the biggest challenge I faced then was how to get more people to know our newly started-up Chinese language project and have more students enrolled. When the 2013 Spring Festival was approaching, an idea emerged in my mind: to hold an event to celebrate Spring Festival in the community, thus intro-ducing our Chinese language project through entertainment. But the reality was rather cold: there were no funds, properties, or participants. Eventually, after communicating with various parties and with the help of the Confucius Institute to which we belong and the local Chinese community, property problem, such as costume, lighting, colored silk and so on, was settled. In the meantime, with the principal’s support, several classes were willing to participate in the cho-rus, and 6 teachers signed up for cheongsam show. All of the performers worked very hard during the preparation, and I was also determined to fire this opening shot well. Before the gala, we invited all the parents and other members of the community. And in the end, the show proved a big success: especially the Taichi Fan Show and the dance “the Coolest Chinese Ethnic Style” per-formed by the students, and the cheongsam show by the teachers astonished all the audience. More importantly and surprisingly, the principal of the school attended the fashion show in per-son! And I did realize that she was showing her support for my job and the Chinese program by doing this. After this successful gala, many students and parents came to ask about the Chinese courses and the extracurricular Chinese classes and some parents even eagerly asked to sign up in advance.

Since then, more and more people have started to ask about our Chinese language project, to know about this Chinese Classroom in the Central Elementary School, and to know Ms. Wang from China. A Chinese craze has quietly risen in this little town with few Chinese.

In the following years, many teachers and parents would come early and ask to take part in the show long before the gala started, and some parents would even drive two hours to the China town in Los Angeles to buy their kids cheongsam and little fans for the performance.

In the fourth year of my career here, all 30 classes in the school took part in our Spring Festival Gala, and the faculty, the parents and people of the school district also made appointments to attend. For this reason, I worked with the other teachers, and prepared many stage plays and class choruses. Meanwhile, the classic “Taichi Fan show” and “the 12 Chinese Zodiac celebrating the festival” added more Chinese cultural elements to the event. The gala was held in four suc-cessive nights, and the school and even the whole community were deeply immersed in the joyful atmosphere of Chinese New Year Festival, which also let more people know about and fall in love with China and at the same time made the Chinese language project known to more people and loved by more.

(The author is an oversea Chinese teacher from Qufu Normal University)

People’s Daily Overseas Edition (Page 9, February 9th, 2018)

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