The multicultural exchange at UIC not only broadens students' global vision but also deepens their understanding of Chinese culture. The traditions of Chinese culture has been blended into the study and daily life of students and staff.

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UIC offers not only a Chinese culture and society education programme but also provides Whole Person Education (WPE) experiential learning courses to draw on the essence of the 'six arts' (the six traditional subjects to educate a comprehensively developed student) in ancient China. Moreover, UIC also holds many lectures and activities to enable students and staff to have an in-depth understanding of Chinese history and culture.

On 14 October, UIC Provost Prof Chen Zhi held a lecture with the theme of 'Xia And Ya: Finding the Roots of Chinese Culture'. By citing abundant ancient documents and archaeological evidence, Prof Chen introduced the origin and development of various traditional concepts such as 'Huaxia' and 'China'. He also introduced the formation and changes of 'Xia and Ya', and the rites and music of Zhou Dynasty with simple explanations to help people better understand the origin of Chinese culture.

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Prof Chen Zhi speaks of the origin of Chinese culture

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Prof Chen is an internationally acclaimed scholar and researcher in Chinese Studies. His diversified interests in Chinese Studies include classical studies and early Chinese culture and history, historical writings, traditional Chinese poetry, excavated documents and paleography: bronze inscriptions and bamboo and silk writings, and intellectual history of the Ming and Qing dynasty.

In addition to this lecture, Prof Chen Zhi also went into the classrooms to teach sophomores the class on appreciation and writing of Chinese poetry. This Experimental Art course is part of UIC's Whole Person Education (WPE) and consists of ten classes in total.

During this class, Prof Chen Zhi leads the students to learn the theoretical knowledge of poetry appreciation and creation. Students also try to write poetry and rhythmical prose (a kind of prose characterized by parallelism and ornateness) by themselves to deepen their understanding and experience of the rhymed literature writing.

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Prof Chen is answering the questions from students

While explaining the basic knowledge of words and rhythms in poetry, Prof Chen also used humorous expressions to tell the stories of ancient literati, creating an academic yet exciting atmosphere for students. He mentioned that the ancient Chinese poetry usually influences and cultivates people sincerely without them knowing, which helps the students to appreciate the beauty of the rhyme of poetry and then improves their literary accomplishment.

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Students show a keen interest during the lecture

 

Teaching Chinese culture to foreigners

UIC's international teachers and students also have many opportunities to know and learn about Chinese culture and arts. Not only can they learn Chinese language systematically, but also can learn calligraphy, Guqin, Dragon-Lion dance, etc.

It is not easy to explain Chinese classical works and poems to foreigners who are unfamiliar with Chinese culture. Teachers, however, have their own ingenious ways. Assistant professor of Chinese Language and Culture Centre (CLC) Dr James Yang, for example, interpreted the famous Chinese story 'Journey to the West' in his own unique way. He loved the story 'Journey to the West' since childhood. Therefore, he made use of his advantage to draw comic illustrations of the 'Journey to the West' by himself, borrowed the form of Chinese comic strips and captioned with written explanations, all of which made the class very humorous. In this way, the foreign teachers and students can truly feel the joy of reading and learning the story of 'Journey to the West' whilst deepening their understanding of Chinese culture.

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Dr Yang giving a lecture

Back then, when Dr Yang was a PhD student in Oklahoma University in the US, he was invited by a local high school to give lectures with the theme of 'Journey to the West ' for all Chinese classes and received an enthusiastic response.

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Dr Yang is interpreting the 'Journey to the West' in comics

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'Journey to the West' in comics by Dr Yang

Dr James Yang also serialized the comics series--- Chinese Poetry in Comics (《漫出来的中华好诗词》) on the WeChat official account of the Institute for Communication Studies of Chinese Culture in UIC. He told the stories of poetry with his paintbrush and presenting ancient Chinese culture in the form of comics to Chinese and foreign readers. When summarizing his own experience in lecturing on Chinese culture to foreign teachers and students, Dr Yang said that the key to stimulating their interest is to help them to seek the common ground between Chinese culture and their own culture to obtain a better understanding.

 

Foreigners embrace traditional Chinese culture

Jacob Algrim is a lecturer at UIC's English Language Centre. Four years ago, he joined UIC and began to learn Chinese from the primary level. Till now, he can communicate with people fluently in Chinese, and he is preparing to take HSK at level 6.

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Jacob is playing Guqin

In Zhuhai, Jacob also developed a special connection with Guqin. Having studied trumpet, bass, guitar and Tabla drum (a kind of percussion instrument in India), he became obsessed with the Guqin. Now Jacob has been studying the Guqin for three years and will introduce himself by playing several Guqin songs to the students in his English class.

He often performs at the gatherings that are arranged by the Qin Club held in UIC and the city of Zhuhai. He also helped to spread the knowledge of the Guqin further and display its beauty to more friends who are not familiar with it on a language learning application.

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Jacob is playing the Guqin at the UIC annual party

Jacob himself owns a Guqin. He said that he was concerned that there would be no such atmosphere and condition for playing Guqin and speaking Chinese when he would return to the United States in the future, but the Chinese culture has become a part of him. He will not stop learning and using Chinese, and will also take the Guqin back to the US and let its melody continue to accompany him.

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Jacob introduces the Guqin to teachers in Zhuhai

 

Interest clubs offer different traditional Chinese cultures

As an extension of the curriculum, there are nearly ten student interest clubs and associations related to the Chinese culture in UIC, including the Qin Club (Guqin), Yayue Orchestra, Traditional Art and Culture Club, Chinese Archery Association, Dragon-Lion Dance Team, Health Qigong Team, Hsvan Pu·History Discussion Club, Tai Chi Club, The Club of Lingnan’s Kungfu and so on. From the curriculum settings to the support for student associations, Chinese traditional culture has shown remarkable vitality on UIC's campus, and students have benefited a lot from it.

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Chinese Archery (Shedao) Association in UIC

In December 2019, UIC was listed as a Chinese traditional culture inheritance base amongst Guangdong universities and the only base amongst Zhuhai universities by the provincial Department of Education for the College’s Lingnan rite and music programmes. 

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Wu Qinhua, a Year 2 student from Culture, Creativity and Management Programme, learned how to play Sheng and Gu in the Yayue Orchestra, and participated in the first public performance of the orchestra. Since she joined the orchestra, she has gradually deepened her understanding of Yayue. She explained that the ancient Chinese poetry is usually accompanied by music, while the ancient rites are generally carried by music and dances. In this case, the Yayue Orchestra not only means performance but also reveals the glory of China during ancient times.

In the summer of 2019, UIC's Dragon-Lion Team participated in the 12th Dragon-Lion Dance Championships for University and College Students and won the champion in Women's High Pile Lion Dance, and the third grade in Optional Routine of Southern Lion Dance.

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UIC's Dragon-Lion Team

Qin Yao, a Year 3 student from the Public Relations and Advertisement Programme, is a member of the Dragon-Lion Dance Team. As a child living in northern China, she could only see the lion dance in the street during the Spring Festival, and it was difficult for her to have a chance to know more about the culture of the Dragon-Lion Dance. Joining the Dragon-Lion Dance Team allowed Qin Yao further to acknowledge the culture of the Southern Lion Dance, participated in the national competitions, and deeply experienced the charm of this traditional culture. 

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Several members of the Health Qigong Team

Xin Shengyang, a Year 3 student from Statistics, got to know a group of friends who love traditional culture and sports after joining the Health Qigong Team. In this group, he learned the skills of Qigong, and also obtained several precious experiences in competitions. Xin Shengyang believes that the college's curriculum helps the students truly understand this sport. 

 

From MPRO
Editors: Samuel Burgess, Deen He, Ma Yiran, Xia Meng