An English and Writing student at Leeds Trinity University describes his experiences at our China Day last month.
On 26th January the Business Confucius Institute team went to Leeds Trinity University to run a 'China Day' for Chinese New Year (read our news round up here and view pictures from the event on Flickr). Farne Errington, a student who attended and enthusiastically took part in all the activities available, has kindly written a review of the experience for us.
Over to Farne:
I am not someone who is particularly cultured, I admit this straight away, but that is going to change thanks to a visit by the Confucius Institute.
I attend Leeds Trinity University as an English and Writing student and I really enjoy my degree, I’ve been there for almost two years now and I am pretty comfortable. There is always something different at the front of reception, it varies. Whatever it is, it never really pulls me in and if it does I’m there for a good five minutes before I am off. One day in January, however, I was drawn in by soft sounds. The sounds of the traditional Chinese stringed instrument, which I later found out was called a Guzheng. This was the first piece of fascinating Chinese culture I was to soak up.
I was called over and introduced to the craft of calligraphy. I do a lot of writing myself, but never like this. My distinctively bad handwriting didn’t help me, but even so I was massively encouraged by everyone so was more than happy to give it a go. I was told what my name would roughly translate to, something that was fascinating to know. I then prescribed the name in Mandarin. I have the thin paper copy on my wall and the bookmark in my diary, they are truly beautiful!
I then moved around and had a closer look at the instrument that had drawn me in to the event in the first place. The sound was incredibly alluring and the aesthetics matched the sound perfectly. I hadn’t realised it was an instrument that was laid down flat and plucked at with your fingers. I’d not considered what made the sound that is massively associated with China. Here was the instrument before me.
I moved around again to one of the most eye opening topics: Tea. Now you may think it’s over the top to call having traditional tea ‘eye opening’, but I disagree. Being a Yorkshire man I felt before then that I was quite well informed on tea; I let it brew, I use loose leaf sometimes and I enjoy a wide range of flavours. Here the rules were different, as the tea was made to the exact perfect temperature for brewing and the aromas of the tea had to be shared with everyone at the table for them to enjoy the full experience. I have seldom felt so relaxed at university, a place of grades and deadlines, than when sitting and going through the ceremony of making tea. I could write a whole piece just on what I learned, but the most interesting was the mascot – a wooden figurine used in traditional tea ceremonies that has the freshly brewed tea poured on it every time it is made. This helps it develop a smell that evokes the atmosphere and helps develop an atmosphere when it turns to tea time. It definitely worked.
I have seldom felt so relaxed at university, a place of grades and deadlines, than when sitting and going through the ceremony of making tea.
I then had a go at making some papercuts, something I had never considered particularly challenging until I tried it myself. They are much harder to make properly and neatly than a lot of people would think! It was at this point I was telling myself that I was going to better informed, go to lots of events put on by the Confucius institute and generally try and seek out new experiences that broaden my view of the world.
It was at this point I was telling myself that I was going to better informed, [...] and generally try and seek out new experiences that broaden my view of the world.
I’d like to thank the Confucius Institute massively for coming in to Leeds Trinity on behalf of the students and staff I was enjoying the activities with: the feedback received from all proves that it was a great event. Make sure to check out the website for upcoming events and I urge you to attend!
By Farne Errington, student of English and Writing at Leeds Trinity University