The UCD Confucius Institute for Ireland (CII) and its Confucius Classroom located in the Galway Education Centre hosted the Chinese Cultural Experience Day at the Galway Eyre Square Centre on May 5, 2018. The event showcased Chinese songs, hu lu si and gu zheng (unique Chinese music instruments) performance, tea ceremony, paper-cut, Chinese calligraphy, chess, Chinese knots, face painting, ink-blowing painting, and Chinese ancient costumes. Led by CII Co-director Mr Zhang Wei, the team conjured up a fascinating cultural feast for the Galway residents.
Mr Frank Fahey, former Vice-President of the European Commission and Mr Noel Grealish, TD for the Galway West constituency, both came to the event to show their support and experience the beauty of Chinese culture.
The day started with Mr Fahey’s introduction of the UCD CII staff who hosted the event; He expressed his gratitude to them on behalf of the local Galway people. The Chinese choir, made up of 7 CII volunteer teachers warmed up the event and attracted a large crowd with three classic Chinese songs: Dance to Youth, Jasmine and Sweet on You.
As an important aspect of Chinese culture and arts, Calligraphy was shown to the participants in great details, from how to hold the brush and dip into the ink properly to how to start the first stroke and complete a Chinese character. From this hands-on experience the participants gained a good understanding of the power and beauty of Chinese characters. The participants received a special present from the teachers who wrote their names in Chinese characters on paper based on their English pronunciations. Mr Grealish tried his hand at writing his name in Chinese-nuo wan, meaning as good as one’s word.
Two teachers played a unique traditional Chinese musical instrument called hu lu si . The music created a tranquil and mesmerizing atmosphere. A Southern Chinese song performed by a CII teacher presented a picture of the stunning landscapes of South China.
Time seemed to stand still when people sipped tasty tea offered at the Chinese tea ceremony and listened to the enchanting music of gu zheng. Chinese tea tasting offered a special experience of the ancient Chinese tea culture. Catherine, a Galway primary school teacher who is studying to teach Chinese, tried her hand at the tea ceremony.
The teachers brought auspicious 3-D traditional Chinese paper-cut designs of Chinese characters such as chun (spring) and xi (double happiness) to match the vibrant spring in Galway. Face and hand painting proved highly popular among children. The teachers not only drew such Chinese characters as ai (love), mei (beautiful) and shuai (handsome), but also taught the children their meanings and pronunciations. Beautiful flower buds on the girls’ faces transformed them into Chinese beauties. The whole shopping centre was filled with this new trend.
The teacher of ink-blowing painting demonstrated how his imagination transformed the dotted ink into unique works of trees, flowers, abstract arts decorated with coloured paints. At the popular Chinese knots stall, teachers designed simple string bracelets for partakers to make in a couple of minutes. Everyone walked away happily with a colourful Chinese-knot-style bracelet.
Demonstrators of Chen style Tai Chi encouraged onlookers to experience the beauty of Tai Chi by learning a few basic moves. Polish girl Nina (pictured right), a fan of Chinese language and culture, used to learn Chinese online but at the end of the day’s event, she decided to sign up for the Chinese lessons at the Galway Education Centre.
Keith, another fan from Galway, taught himself Tai Chi. Dressed in a white Tai Chi uniform he demonstrated near-professional Tai Chi moves, which won thundering applause.
The ancient Chinese costume try-on stall proved particularly popular. Everyone enjoyed dressing up as Chinese Qing dynasty emperors, empresses, princes and princesses. The young boy in the picture who was learning Tai Chi dressed in a Tang dynasty costume looked adorable.
The 2018 Miss Galway photo shoot happened to be on the same day and in the same place, so a special photo was taken of 2017 Miss Galway, her fellow contestants in their bewildering dresses and UCD CII teachers in their traditional Chinese dresses qi pao. The roses of China and Ireland shared their beauty and friendship at the two seperate events.
The successful event closed with the song Auld Lang Syne sung by the CII team. As the biggest cultural event organized by the UCD CII in Galway, the exhibition included performance such as Chinese songs, tea ceremony, gu zheng and Tai Chi, and interaction, which attracted people to make paper-cut, Chinese knots and other crafts. The activities attracted almost 800 locals and increased the mutual understanding of the Chinese and Irish people.
Note: Established in 2014 and as one of the eight Confucius classrooms set up by UCD CII, the Confucius Classroom in Galway Education Centre offers five Chinese courses, including evening class, local Chinese teacher training, online class, business class and children’s class. It plays an important role in promoting Chinese culture in West Galway and the sustainable development of Chinese language teaching in Ireland.