By PENGFEI WANG and ERIN HOLLOWAY
Editor: MICHELLE DANNER
On September 25th, New Mind Education at NCSU launched a party in Alexander Hall to celebrate a traditional Chinese festival: the Mid Autumn festival. Generally, Mid-Autumn festival (also known as the Mooncake Festival) is a harvest festival, during which families gather around and are thankful for the good harvest and also pray that there will be a better harvest next year. In honor of this great festival, New Mind staff invited both international students and American residents to this party. Since there are similarities between America’s Thanksgiving and China’s Mid-Autumn festival, students had a chance to obtain a better understanding of those cultural similarities and differences while practicing their English speaking. Alexander Hall is a part of NCSU’s “Global Village,” meaning the Americans living there have an interest in learning other cultures in addition to the other exchange students who live there. Therefore, UPP students had a chance to meet many different and receptive people in one place.
In order to prepare for this party, New Mind staff went to Grand Asia Supermarket to buy Mooncakes (in several flavors) and green tea for this event. They also prepared Chinese brushes, calligraphy paper, lanterns, and ink for the main activity. They even prepared a fun trivia game about China for the party.
At the beginning of the party, UPP students were asked to teach the Alexander Hall residents how to write their name in Chinese characters in respect to their pronunciations. Almost all of the Alexander Hall residents got amazed by their Chinese characters name. The Mooncakes were a big hit! The Chestnut flavor was finished first, followed by red bean, then green tea. The general flavor, lotus seed, lasted the longest, but all 96 servings on mooncake were finished before the event ended. According to one UPP student, Xinhua Du, “Those mooncakes are delicious and make me homesick a little bit.” Besides the mooncakes, green tea is also popular at the party. Some of the Alexander Hall residents even wanted to take a tea bag back to their apartments.
On another table, students and visitors decorated red lanterns that they could then keep. The best part of this event was using traditional Chinese brushes, paper and ink rather than pens to let UPP students demonstrate how to write. Eighteen residents participated in this event. They came from Denmark, India, and many other parts of the globe. The brush writing and decorating was very popular! As one of the UPP students, Rick, mentioned, “Teaching these Americans writing makes me so proud.”
After teaching and chatting, the highlight of the party was the Chinese trivia game. One of our staff members gave multiple choices questions about China and let all of the guests try to guess which choice was correct. The winner of this trivia game was awarded a delicious, premium Mooncake. Some of the facts and answers were really surprising not only to the residents but to UPP students too!
“Some of these trivia question is really surprising, I didn’t even know it back in China.” Du said.
Overall, the Mooncake Festival was a success. Our students chatted a lot with residents and actively participated in teaching them how to write their names in Chinese. Everyone was satisfied with the mooncakes and activities. Our students practiced English quite a bit, which will surely be beneficial to their IEP classes and future study. We are looking forward to creating more chances for our students to not only learn American culture, but teach others about their own culture and ideas!