By TIFFANY MERRITT

Editor: MICHELLE DANNER

 

 

On Saturday, April 8, UPP students joined iFest, the annual International Festival hosted by the International Program Center on UNCG campus. This event is held every year to showcase the cultures and countries present at UNCG.  At this event, students and the wider Greensboro community are invited to view performances of singing and dancing from other countries as well as visit booths with activities and food.  The booths had a variety of things to do, from middle eastern henna temporary tattoos to Asian chopstick races.  Participants could also sample food like Chinese snack crackers, shaved ice and spicy Indian curry.  The festival was filled with the sounds of drums and melodies from around the world, and the sidewalks of UNCG were an explosion of color and life.  

 

 

The UPP interns at UNCG helped students host a booth where they would teach participants about Chinese culture.  This year, students helped people write Chinese poems or their names on scrolls in traditional Chinese characters.  People had two choices of how they wanted to record the poems.  The easier option was to write the poem on a piece of white paper, then attach rods to the ends of the paper in order to roll the poem up as a scroll.  The harder option was to write the Chinese characters vertically on popsicle sticks, then bind the sticks together to resemble the record keeping style found in ancient China.  People could choose poems with a variety of topics including love, friendship and family.  An example was a poem written by the famous poet Li Bai.  This friendship poem talks about a friend departing on a boat.  As his boat reaches the deep water, he hears footsteps on the shore.  The footsteps belong to his good friend, who has come to wish him farewell.  At this moment, the man in the boat realizes that even though the water under his boat is very deep, the love his friend has for him is much deeper. Poems like this provide Americans with an appreciation of the beauty of Chinese characters as well as the cultural meaning behind Chinese literature.

 

 

UPP students volunteered in order to interact with new people and share their home culture. Later on, the interns reflected on why this opportunity is important for students.  All the interns who worked at this event are Chinese students–and some of them former UPP students!–so they understand the struggles UPP students go through. Intern Huiguang “Kevin” Ke said it is important for students to participate in this kind of activity so they can teach others about their home culture.  Yang “Melanie” Min (UPP October ‘14) thought festivals like this help with the cultural adaptation process and foster international friendships. Besides the value this type of festival adds to increasing intercultural competency, Yang “Tommy” Fan (UPP August ’12) added, “Volunteering is good for our students because it is a social responsibility.”   The staff at UPP appreciates all the work UNCG puts into this yearly festival and we are grateful this opportunity is available for all students.