China Night promotes culture, tradition
Gina Twardosz | Friday, February 10, 2017
Saint Mary’s 8th annual China Night will take place in Moreau Center’s Little Theatre on Saturday.
Alice Siqin Yang, associate director of international education, said China Night will feature a variety of performances centered around Chinese culture, presented by both Saint Mary’s international exchange students and local Chinese community members.
“In addition to our Chinese international students, we have some community [dance groups] — children from six to 20 [years old] will come to perform from the local Chinese community,” Yang said.
Although this is China Night’s 8th consecutive year, Yang said China Night has a long history at Saint Mary’s.
“The first one was in 1967 and then 1969; they did two years of China Night on this campus in the … O’Laughlin Auditorium,” she said. “This should be our 50-year anniversary.”
Yang said this year’s focus for China Night is the Year of the Rooster, one of the twelve Chinese zodiac signs that cycle through the years.
“Those born under the sign of the Rooster are hard-working, confident, proud and ready to meet challenges,” she said. “This will be a lucky year for those born under this sign.”
Junior Chinese Culture Club president Jinglun Zhang said she likes sharing Chinese culture with American students because it helps to form a bond between all Saint Mary’s students.
“It helps Chinese students not be so anxious, as we are in a completely new environment,” she said. “We feel a lot of pressure from both the academic areas and the social ones too, so this event can help us not feel so nervous, as we are all a big family here.”
Zhang said many of the events to be performed are of traditional Chinese culture — namely dance, song and poetry — along with a costume show that spotlights traditional Chinese dress. There will also be several performances with traditional Chinese instruments, as well as a lottery game with red envelopes for the winners and a craft sale with products from China, she said.
“The money we will raise will be donated to [young Chinese] girls in the rural areas who are not able to study because they are poor and their families cannot afford the fees for them to study,” Zhang said.
“This is especially important because … [in Chinese culture] the family tends to ignore the girls and afford the boys the study opportunities.”
The event is aimed at displaying the importance of having a diverse campus, Yang said.
“This event is a part of our campus internationalization,” she said. “We promote diversity [and] inclusion, which is very important right now, so many people can have the opportunity to learn about Chinese language and culture.”
The event is also a great opportunity for the College’s Chinese exchange students to showcase their talents, Yang said.
“Many international students are very talented and this offers them a platform to showcase their talents and share their expertise with Saint Mary’s and the local community,” she said.
“ … I think it is a great collaboration between Saint Mary’s and the local community,” she said. “We open Saint Mary’s doors and welcome community members to come to our campus and create a very good interaction. They come to celebrate the Chinese New Year with us and it’s a good outreach to the community. More people will know about and appreciate Saint Mary’s because of China Night.”
The international students should be viewed as Chinese cultural conduits on campus, Yang said.
“I send students to study abroad in 18 countries and we always say our students are cultural ambassadors in those countries,” she said. “The same thing is true here. We have about 30 – 40 international students, and half of them are Chinese international students. They are also playing the role of cultural ambassador and bringing Chinese culture to campus.
“It’s a great opportunity for our students to learn about the culture because today, it’s as important as ever to have a global mind, to be open minded and have strong intercultural confidence. This event offers everyone the opportunity to access diverse culture.”