Chinese Language Week: It’s More Than Language

Dancers perform the culturally significant Lotus Dance under the direction of dance teacher Tina Chen.  The dances were to be part of the Marlborough Chinese Language Week celebrations.

BRYA INGRAM

Dancers perform the culturally significant Lotus Dance under the direction of dance teacher Tina Chen. The dances were to be part of the Marlborough Chinese Language Week celebrations.

Opinion: Chinese calligraphy is not as easy as it sounds!

The way you hold the brush, the amount of paint on the brush, the pressure you apply, and the pace of the stroke are all very precise.

I imagine it would be very relaxing and satisfying once you get the hang of it. It has flow and rhythm, much like the beautiful Lotus Dance Chinese ladies perform.

I had the privilege of experiencing both when the Chinese community in Blenheim invited me to join them in some of their activities on Saturday.

Journalist Helen Nickisson finds Chinese calligraphy not as simple as it looks.

BRYA INGRAM

Journalist Helen Nickisson finds Chinese calligraphy not as simple as it looks.

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They had devoted many hours of preparation, planning and practice for a grand inaugural celebration of Chinese Language Week in the region.

Although they couldn’t organize the festivities due to Covid restrictions, they wanted the opportunity to share some of their rich culture.

There is great pride in the preservation of culture, tradition and language, and this shows in the involvement of the whole community in the activities offered.

They are between 5 and 86 years old, Chinese Nelson-Marlborough Association president Xuemei Zhang told me, and each of them is involved in one way or another.

Through almost all of these activities, I learn that the symbolism is deeply veined.

The Chinese characters I tried to form aren’t just random strokes, calligraphy teacher Eva Au-Yeung tells me – each character has a deep meaning.

Mei Zhang practices Chinese lettering at the Chinese Writing Club.  Each character has a deep meaning.

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Mei Zhang practices Chinese lettering at the Chinese Writing Club. Each character has a deep meaning.

The graceful and flowing movements of the dancers are also of great importance, as are their costumes.

The Lotus Dance is a truly traditional classical Chinese dance, dance teacher Tina Chen tells me. It comes from a poem describing the picturesque and graceful beauty of the lotus flower.

The flower is important in Chinese culture and symbolizes purity of heart and mind, she explains.

The dancers perform one of the performances they were scheduled to do during the Chinese Language Week celebrations.  From left to right: Judy Young, Mandy Li, Lily Li, Lynn Liu, Yiluan Gao and Linlin Yang.

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The dancers perform one of the performances they were scheduled to do during the Chinese Language Week celebrations. From left to right: Judy Young, Mandy Li, Lily Li, Lynn Liu, Yiluan Gao and Linlin Yang.

She hopes that when the dance is watched it will foster a sense of peace and positivity, especially in the wake of the impact of the virus on people’s lives.

Unfortunately, due to the confinement, they were unable to practice their dragon dance tell me the ladies, which was to be an important part of the planned celebration.

The dragon is an important symbol of Chinese culture, and the dragon dance is an ancient craft of the Chinese.

Professors Chi Liang, bottom left, and Lynn Liu, right, with a group of students taking a Chinese class on Saturdays at Blenheim School.

Helen Nickisson / Stuff

Professors Chi Liang, bottom left, and Lynn Liu, right, with a group of students taking a Chinese class on Saturdays at Blenheim School.

The community is hoping that all the preparation, planning and rehearsals that have been put in place can be transferred to a big party for the New Year.

The Nelson-Marlborough Chinese Association was formed in September last year and has helped the community connect and become more organized and able to promote activities, Guan Wang told me. She should have been emcee for the celebration.

“Our goal is to help Chinese people connect, find their interest and promote our culture to our second generation through Chinese lessons for children, Ladies dance club, Writing club of calligraphy, dragon dance team and football and basketball teams. ” she said.

Language doesn’t only mean words, teacher Lynn Liu tells me when I visit the Chinese class she gives on Saturdays at the Blenheim school, but it’s also a matter of culture and nationality.

Despite the celebrations being canceled, Enny Leong, left, Mandy Li, Xue Mei Zhang (chairman), Guan Wang and Jane Tan still celebrated their language and culture.

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Despite the celebrations being canceled, Enny Leong, left, Mandy Li, Xue Mei Zhang (chairman), Guan Wang and Jane Tan still celebrated their language and culture.

While children in language classes learn Mandarin and Chinese writing, they are also educated about the meaning of characters, as well as Chinese history and culture.

“We’ve all found a great life here, but it’s really far from our homeland,” she said. “For some of the little ones who were born here, it’s really hard for them to express themselves in Chinese, because everything around them is English.

To learn more about the Chinese Association and its activities, contact Xuemei Zhang on 021 180 0768.


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