By JASON ZICHENG JIN and ERIN HOLLOWAY
Editor: MICHELLE DANNER
On September 19th and 20th, downtown Raleigh held an interdisciplinary festival centered on creativity, art and design called SPARKcon, which has been an annual event since 2006. To enable New Mind students to communicate with many different Americans and to teach Americans about Chinese culture, our team at NCSU decided to participate in this event to showcase Chinese art and culture to the general public. New Mind staff registered for a space in artSPARK, the section of the festival designated for interactive and creative activities. New Mind interns and staff decided to host three activities at our tent to teach Chinese culture: translating English names or words into Chinese, drawing Chinese character tattoos with tattoo pens, and building and decorating a ram sculpture (Chinese zodiac) with the public.
Before this event, we had plenty of strategies to help engage students. We used GLC time to let them create posters to showcase what Chinese characters/words visitors may want to choose to write or tattoo. UPP students also helped build the base of the ram sculpture out of cardboard and tape. 48 UPP students volunteered for 1-hour shifts between 11am-5pm, 8 interns and 5 staff members in total took part in this two-day event.
On September 19th, three interns, Evans, Tyler and Jason, and two staff members, Erin and Dalhya, transported all the materials to the New Mind tent location on Hargett St. and set up the three different stations. We used paper mache to complete the ram sculpture on Saturday, then Sunday was devoted to painting and decorating the sculpture. Other interns were standing by from 11am-4pm to help UPP students get downtown. Pushing the students to take the public buses on their own was great practice, since during the weekday, they may only talk with their professor or roommates; however, during this event, they can practice their communication skills and interpersonal skills with public.
Students were able to practice their English as they helped visitors write their names, translate words or write tattoos on them. Tian, a girl from UPP, looked at her friends using the tattoo pens to write down names for public and said, “I really want to have a tattoo on my arm, too.”
“We are just helping them to write down their names on their arms.” said by Ace, a boy from UPP, “they really enjoy the tattoo.” Other students said that translating visitor’s names into Chinese, either on the paper cards or as a tattoo, was their favorite part.
Lots of Americans came and participated in this event. Some of them also asked “What is New Mind Education?” Both students and interns helped explain to them what New Mind Education is all about. A NC State student called Joli, who majors in Zoology, asked us three questions: “How do you like the US and Raleigh? What is New Mind Education? How could I get an event that is held by New Mind?” She showed a lot of interest about our organization during this event. The first day ended at 5 PM.
On the second day of this event, September 20th, we brought brushes and paint to paint the ram red, since the color red means lucky in Chinese. We also asked the public if they could write Chinese characters on the body of the ram in yellow. Lots of them wrote their names or some other good characters. At the end of the day, we made a great and beautiful ram that we could present on September 25th for the mid-autumn festival event.
Also, some Russian people come to ask us more questions, “How Chinese type in the keyboard?” Xinhua Du, a UPP student who is really good at communicating with others, answered them. After talking with them, Du told me, “They really enjoy Chinese culture, and I am glad to tell them more.”
All in all, students and visitors both enjoyed the New Mind tent, and we accomplished our goal to engage New Mind Students with Americans and to teach Americans about Chinese culture. Students said that if New Mind offered another opportunity like this, they would join the event again. We are looking forward to make this event an activity for next fall as well, and expand our activities to engage even more people.