Teachers and Students of Confucius Institute at Geneva University Play a Part in 9th United Nations Chinese Language Day

[Source]    Confucius Institute at the Geneva University [Time]    2018-04-26 16:51:05 

On April 16th, local time, the 9th United Nations Chinese Language Day, entitled “Charm of Chinese Culture: from Characters to Literature” kicked off at the Palais des Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. Chinese cultural symbols and related exhibitions, such as the four treasures of studying (writing brush, ink stick, ink slab and paper), movable type printing, bone fragments, translated works display, and calligraphy performances, brought about a “Chinese craze” at the UN. Representative teachers and students of the Confucius Institute in Geneva were invited to attend the opening ceremony, helping promote the interactive activities.

Michael Møller, Director-General of the United Nations in Geneva, said in his speech that “Not only is Chinese one of the oldest languages in the world, but also one of the most widely spoken languages in the world today. Language diversity is the cornerstone of multilateralism. Only by mutual understanding can we find common ground.”

Michael Møller delivering a speech

Yu Jianhua, Chinese Ambassador to the United Nations Office in Geneva, delivered a speech explaining the “people-oriented mentality” in Chinese traditional culture and “people-centered” outlook on development by analyzing the implication of the character “People” that best reflects the essence of Chinese culture. He hoped the Chinese language day will promote the mutual exchange of culture among civilizations.

Yu Jianhua delivering a speech

On that day, teachers and students from the Confucius Institute in Geneva, together with 400 guests experienced the theme exhibition. The exhibition introduced two key features of pattern abstraction as well as combined association of Chinese characters through disassembling them, and conveyed their long history and essence through the introduction of writing tools and other related knowledge. The interactive exhibition booths for on-site calligraphy, printing, and Chinese character tattoos were at the top on visitors’ list. Participants were very excited after personally hand making their own crafts under personnel guidance.

Interactive exhibition booths for calligraphy

Exhibition booth for Chinese idiom tattoos

Exhibition booth for ancient printing of Chinese characters

A teacher of the Confucius Institute in Geneva explaining the four treasures of studying

In the “Reading China” salon, Swiss sinologists Harrison von Senger, Georgian sinologist Marine Jiblaze and Huang Zuoyue, Director of the Institute of International Sinology at Beijing Language and Culture University, were invited to be the main speakers. They focused on the relationship between Chinese characters and literature, delivered keynote speeches and discussions, and answered questions from students on the spot.

“Reading China” salon

In recent years, there have been more and more students enrolled in the credit course of Chinese language at various faculties of the University of Geneva, especially the Institute of International Relations. The rapid development of China and its active role in international affairs have also motivated these young students to turn their focus on China.

Yara Solenthaler, majoring international relations at the University of Geneva, is an outstanding student at the Confucius Institute. As a “representative of China”, she argued heatedly with other young representatives of various countries at the Asia-Europe simulation forum. Yara said, “Learning Chinese and Chinese characters has fascinated me and I have learned about different cultures and wisdoms.”

Jacques Guillemot, who is over 80, is a Confucius Institute student and loves Chinese language and culture. He has been studying Chinese at the Confucius Institute since 2015 and has braved the bitter cold and scorching heat to travel from Annecy of France to Geneva of Switzerland, two nights a week. Jacques loves the ancient poetry of China and pays attention to the construction and development of contemporary China. He is also an ardent subscriber to The People’s Pictorial.

The guests

Representatives at the Confucius Institute in Geneva

Chinese, English, French, Russian, Arabic and Spanish are the official working languages of the United Nations. In 2010, the United Nations designated the “Grain Rain Day” of the 24 solar terms as the United Nations Chinese Language Day to commemorate the contributions of Cang Jie, “Chinese literary ancestor”. Chinese characters contain many Chinese cultural codes, and mastering Chinese characters is a key to understanding Chinese culture. Understanding Chinese characters is a vital access to the lives and hearts of Chinese people and Chinese culture.

Story and Photos by Wang Xiaolu, Bao Yinhui