Mooncakes, calligraphy, and traditional games were among the offerings by stations at the Chinese Students’ Association’s (CSA) annual China Expo, which celebrates and educates about Chinese culture.
The expo took place in Hirst Lounge in Wilson Commons on Friday, Sept. 28, from 2 to 5 p.m.
The event came three days after Mid-Autumn Festival, a harvest festival celebrated in China often marked by family gatherings. Junior Ellie Tong, an organizer of the event, said the holiday is special for the Chinese international community at UR.
“And just for Chinese international students studying abroad, it’s definitely […] a great holiday to celebrate between us,” Tong, who is an international student from Shenzhen, said. The event’s co-organizer, sophomore and secretary of CSA Sampson Hao, is also an international student, from Beijing.
The stations were set up, each with poster boards educating about different aspects of Chinese culture, as well as activities. A station about Mid-Autumn Festival, for example, featured a poster with details about the ancient roots of the festival — once a time of prayer for a good harvest — as well as mooncake samples. (Mooncake, a pastry with egg yolk and lotus seed paste, is traditionally eaten on Mid-Autumn festival.)
A station about the cultural significance of tea in China also featured appropriate samples. Tea — the presenter explained — can be used as means of relaxation, respect, and as part of family gatherings.
Other stations were more hands-on, like one for Chinese traditional knotting and paper cutting, for which the appropriate string, paper, and scissors were provided. Another very participatory station was the traditional Chinese games station. One of these games involved picking a marble out of a cup with chopsticks. Another required participants to unhook some small, twisted, entangled, metal bars. One challenging station was the calligraphy station, where visitors could test their skill painting Chinese characters with an ink brush.
For each station visited and participated in, observers where given a stamp on a slip of paper. At the end, the stamps could be exchanged for gifts. Attendees could receive a bookmark, notebook, keychain, or pen.
Hao explained that China Expo is a preview of sorts to the Mid-Autumn Festival Show, which is a performance event hosted by CSA. This year it will be held on Oct. 20, in commemoration CSA’s 45th anniversary. But Hao says that China Expo does hold a special significance for him, particularly in relation to students unfamiliar with the cultural importance of Mid-Autumn Festival.
“I kind of feel like it’s our responsibility to tell them what this thing is.”