“Chinese Culture Fascinates Me”

[Source]    people.com.cn [Time]    2018-08-22 09:21:27 

On August 9th, the lecture “Experiencing Beauty in Chinese Opera” was held by Confucius Institute at Phuket, Prince of Songkla University (PSU) in Thailand. Some Thai students had learnt different types of “orchid fingers” (finger movements expressing emotions and characters in the Chinese opera) with great gusto such as Doufang (vying for beauty), Yurun (tender rain), and Fuyun (touching clouds), and the others had facial makeup as they played their roles. Students from Phuket Wittayalai School took delight in listening to the lecture and watching Chinese opera performance in which a few kids participated in person. By teaching through lively activities, everyone experienced the time-honored Chinese culture.

Let More People Feel Unique Charm of Chinese Culture

“An excellent performer must ‘make every move of his or her body speaks’, by which we are talking about eyes, facial expressions, arms and legs, gestures and footsteps…” The speaker at the lecture was Dr. Liu Xuwu, who majored in Drama and Film Studies at Southwest University. His lecture was clear and easy to be understood with body movements illustrated by performers, bringing fun to the audience.

PSU Confucius Institute at Phuket holding a lecture entitled “Experiencing Beauty in Chinese Opera”

Dr. Liu introduced the overview of Chinese opera with a picture of women in ancient times and a video clip of Kun Opera—The Peony Pavilion. When talking about the roles on stage, he displayed the pictures of various roles and gave a brief introduction. “The roles of Chinese opera fall into four categories, namely, Sheng (male role), Dan (female role), Jing (painted face) and Chou (clown).” After his elaboration, the Thai students present at the lecture could quickly identify various roles.

Thai students participating in the lecture

In order to help Thai students better understand the performance of Chinese opera, Liu Xuwu demonstrated the 53 types of “orchid finger” created by Mei Lanfang (a well-known Peking opera artist). All students present at the lecture showed great interest in the finger patterns and imitated the gestures by learning from the pictures.

Thai students imitating ”orchid finger”

Thai students imitating “orchid finger”

Rao Chun, a national Class-A performer, demonstrated various movements. “Shuixiugong water sleeve dance), Shanzigong ( fan performance), Lingzigong (playing peacock feather), Yaotuigong (somersault) and Bazigong (stage fighting) are all basic skills that require traditional opera performers to master.” The atmosphere of the lecture was brought to the climax with active participation of students, some of which at the lecture imitated typical gestures.

Thai students imitating the typical gestures of Chinese opera

Thai students imitating the typical gestures of Chinese opera

“I have come to understand Chinese opera. It is amazing! Chinese opera is extensive and profound and the unique artistic charm of Chinese culture fascinates me,” said Bantong, while demonstrating the gestures of Chinese opera.

In Rao Chun’s performance Lin Chong Ye Ben (A Midnight Escaping of Lin Chong), the loud and clear singing tune, steady acting style and charming spoken parts helped the students understand the boundless charm of operatic tunes through sonorous Chinese opera singing.

Friendship between peoples holds the key to sound relations between states, while heart-to-heart communication contributes to deep friendship. Cultural exchanges serve as the source of communication between states. “Integrating literature, music, fine arts and other artistic forms, Chinese opera is an integral part of the extensive and profound traditional Chinese culture, which is worth to be understood and appreciated,” said Kosol Saikhaow, President of Phuket Wittayalai School.

Chen Xiaoda, Director of the Confucius Institute at Phuket PSU, said that, as the largest promotion center of Chinese culture and platform for China-Thailand cultural exchanges in southern Thailand, the Institute holds over 100 cultural activities in various forms every year, attracting hundreds of thousands of participants. These activities include folk music, tea art, calligraphic art, traditional Chinese opera, and chess art. “Let more Thai people further understand China, experience Chinese culture and discover the unique charm of Chinese culture by participating in interesting Chinese cultural activities.”

Chen Xiaoda, Director of Confucius Institute at Phuket PSU, delivering a speech

More Students Take Chinese Language as Their Elective Course

In Phuket, our correspondent witnessed that it had become a choice for many people to know about Chinese culture and learn Chinese language. At PSU, though it’s summer vacation, our correspondent could still see students sitting beside a long table and flipping through Business Chinese and Chinese Expressions Used at Airport. A senior student named Varnabhuti told the correspondent that several classmates were going to take their internship at airline companies and they were taking time to consolidate their knowledge of Chinese language since there would be many Chinese tourists on the flights.

Nuwan Thapthiang, Dean of PSU Faculty of International Studies, told our correspondent that, as the largest public university in southern Thailand, PSU has achieved rapid development in its majors related to Chinese language. Since its establishment in 2007, the Faculty of International Studies has set up two majors related to Chinese language, namely, Trade with China and Chinese Studies, registered with over 600 students currently. This figure accounts for 80% of the total number of its students. “Students majoring in Chinese language enjoy broad employment prospects and the employment rate of graduates of majors related to Chinese language ranks fourth among those of the 30 faculties in the university, and these graduates enjoy high income, too,” said Nuwan.

As an indispensable part of the teaching system of PSU, the Confucius Institute at Phuket PSU has made proactive efforts to promote the construction of Chinese disciplines, achieving remarkable progress in Chinese language teaching in various campuses. Starting from scratch, Chinese language teaching in different campus was turned into a major from a mere subject, and developed from undergraduate education to postgraduate education. In the university, our correspondent noticed that the Confucius Institute owned an independent office building, a fully-equipped cultural center, a library, office rooms and private classrooms. Twenty teachers were busy with their work: making preparations for lessons or cultural activities.

Boasting geographical advantages, the Confucius Institute at Phuket PSU integrates disciplinary characteristics of the cooperative partners into its own system and sets its purposes in “devoting to Chinese language teaching, cultural promotion and educational exchanges, and building a Confucius Institute with tourism and business characteristics”. It integrates Chinese language teaching into the university, highlights the features of tourism, trade and business, establishes partnership with PSU Phuket Campus in the majors of Trade with China, Chinese Studies and Tourism Management, with Surat Thani Campus in the major of Language and Business Communication, and with Trang Campus in the major of Tourism Management, and builds a credit-based curriculum system dominated by diploma education with tourism, trade and business characteristics.

Currently, the service of the Confucius Institute at Phuket PSU covers six provinces in southern Thailand with 23 teaching points. The Institute has developed into the largest center of Chinese language teaching and testing as well as promotion of Chinese culture in southern Thailand. Since its establishment, over 30,000 people have participated in HSK Test, and the number of students learning Chinese language reached 41,670 in 2017. Prathana Kannaovakun, President of PSU Phuket Campus, said that more students take Chinese language as an elective course and a growing number of students like to learn Chinese language because Thailand-China exchanges have become increasingly closer.

Chinese Language Has Become One of Most Important Foreign Languages in Thailand

With close exchanges in economy, trade, culture and other fields between China and Thailand, the craze and need for learning Chinese language and culture are on the rise.

In Chinese language teaching, Thailand is the first country in the world to integrate Chinese language teaching into its national educational system, the first to invite Chinese language teachers and volunteers, and the first to introduce the textbooks of basic Chinese language that are jointly published by China and Thailand into its national textbook system and teaching program.

Rattana Srihirun, Vice Secretary General of Basic Education Commission of Ministry of Education, Thailand, said that, with the deepened cooperation in economy, culture and other sectors between China and Thailand, Thailand’s Ministry of Education and other related departments have attached ever-increasing importance on Chinese language. In 2014, the Ministry issued Policies on Reforming Chinese Language Teaching, which serves as the guidelines for Chinese language teaching, so as to ensure the proficiency of Chinese language for Thai students and enhance their international competitiveness. “More than 3,000 schools in Thailand have offered courses on Chinese language with over one million learners and Chinese language has become one of the most important foreign languages in Thailand.”

China and Thailand have jointly established 16 Confucius Institutes and a total number of over 10,000 Chinese language teachers and volunteers have been sent to Thailand in 17 batches by Hanban from 2003 to 2018. Lyu Jian, Chinese Ambassador to Thailand, told our correspondent that Chinese language teaching had been integrated into the systems of basic education, vocational education and higher education in Thailand; and various forms of Chinese language classes had been set up, such as the Chinese language classes at Secretariat of Palace, Immigration Bureau of Thailand, etc., obtaining brilliant achievements.

Thailand is a friendly neighbor of China. Under the backdrop of the Belt and Road Initiative and the construction of East Economic Corridor, Thailand and China are constantly deepening their cooperation in politics, economy, culture and other fields. Thai Minister of Education Teerakiat Jareonsettasin expressed that as more and more Thai people learn Chinese language, the social and economic development and educational exchanges and cooperation between the two countries will be further promoted, thus enhancing the understanding and friendship between the two peoples.

(Story by Sun Guangyong, people.com.cn, Phuket, August 10th; video from People’s Daily)

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