On the 3rd of June, the Confucius Institute hosted a public event at the Chinese Garden of Friendship to celebrate the Dragon Boat Festival and invited students from Ravenswood School for Girls to participate in the activities. Cultural workshops, including Chinese Calligraphy, Chinese Painting and Dragon Boat Festival Handicrafts, were held through the day and there was also a lecture on the history and traditions surrounding the Dragon Boat Festival. The event was run by Confucius Institute Student Ambassadors and 10 volunteer teachers from the CI also helped manage the various workshops so that the wider community could also experience celebrating a traditional Chinese festival.
There were workshops for Chinese Calligraphy, Chinese Painting and Dragon Boat Festival Handicrafts, as well as a small tasting session for “Zhong Zi”, a traditional dish that consists of sticky rice wrapped in bamboo leaves. Additionally, there was also a treasure hunt for the 12 Chinese Zodiac animals which were spread across the gardens and special prizes were given to those who could successfully find all 12 animals.
One of the Student Ambassadors from CI, Liam Hartley, along with the help of Chinese exchange students from UNSW, held a special lecture for the students from the Ravenswood School for Girls. The lecture consisted of an introduction to the history and origin of the Dragon Boat Festival and the students actively participated in the discussions about why people eat Zhong Zi and host Dragon Boat races during this festival. The lecture concluded with Zhong Zhi tasting and students were very enthusiastic about the red-bean filled Zhong Zi that the Student Ambassadors had prepared for them.
The Chinese Calligraphy Booth was very popular as the students were able to practice and create their own calligraphy for words usually used during festival celebrations such as “福 - Good Fortune”and “安康 - Safe and Healthy”. For many students, it was their first time trying out Calligraphy and it was a very exciting occasion. The handicrafts workshop consisted of creating traditional sachets, “香囊”, that are used to ward off bad luck and create good fortune, and also attracted much attention from the students and the general public.
The Confucius Institute aims to connect people from all different spheres by hosting events and celebrations such as this and the success of the Dragon Boat Festival Celebrations at the Chinese Garden of Friendship demonstrates the high level of engagement that students, teachers, tourists and locals were able to have with Chinese culture. Through hands-on experiences, lectures and forums, the CI hopes to continue boosting cultural understanding within Australia.