Virtual Wishing Tree

A highlight of Ricefield Arts’ Chinese New Year celebrations each year is displaying our own wishing tree in Kelvin Hall, Glasgow. Visitors to our annual activity day write their wishes and tie them to the tree, before enjoying an afternoon of fun games, sports and crafts.

With many restrictions in place over the Spring Festival period, this year we invited you to make your wishes for the Year of the Ox online. We were touched by the warm and thoughtful messages we received, with many wishes asking for good health for family, friends and the wider community. It’s clear that the Covid-19 crisis has altered our priorities, and given us a new appreciation for smaller joys and quality time with loved ones.

Take a look at our virtual wishing tree – the words hanging from it appeared in many of the wishes and represent our collective vision for the year ahead. Below we’ve highlighted some inspiring wishes from members of our community, received between 4th February and 1st March 2021. We sincerely each one comes true, and that we’ll be reunited together in person soon.

Wishes

‘My wish for this year is that we are all able to gather together once again as a whole community and to be able to celebrate the good times ahead.’
Aswad Choudhry, Glasgow

‘Wish all my families good health and happiness in 2021! Hope the pandemic will be over soon!!! 希望作为医护工作者的妈妈可以不用继续那么辛苦,希望爸爸不用凌晨送妈妈去上班,家人健康平安幸福。希望可以早日回国和亲人相聚!’
Rita Chen, Austria

‘Wishing everybody good health, happiness and prosperity! 万事如意! 步步高升!’
Andy L, Glasgow

‘That people will be able to hug friends and family soon’
Ruth F, Glasgow

‘I wish for all my friends & family to overcome any hardships and sadness the past year has brought and for 2021 to be a year where they begin to feel joy again.’
Grace Silvestro, Glasgow

‘May this year have opened our eyes to less craving and attachment, and more understanding of how all of us are linked together.’
Darla Lammers, Arizona

‘For a long life to walk alongside my beautiful daughter.’
Anonymous

 ‘My wish would be for a swift end to Covid and getting to spend time with my mum again.’
Jade Graham, Glasgow

‘I wish to give thank for the many blessings in my life. To wish everyone health, perseverance and a good outcome during the pandemic and beyond. Wishing many more happy times volunteering with my friends at Ricefield. Finally, to get my new teeth in June!’
Kathryn Munro, Glasgow

‘I wish for love & respect for all and people connectivity for next year!!’
Anonymous, Edinburgh

‘Wishing that the year of ox fully loaded with happiness, love, good health and great success.’
Angie S, Glasgow

‘Health for the entire world.’
Juliana Brandes, Los Angeles

‘My wish for this new year is the health & happiness of my family and a special wish for my daughter with her choice of High school. Happy New Year.’
Jill Robertson, Belfast

‘Wishing everyone I know good health and happiness.’
Lily, Glasgow

‘Wishing covid is over soon and everyone has jobs. Wishing my daughter will be healthy minded and my son is able to figure what programs to study for next year. Wishing good health to all my family members.’
Huynh, Ontario

‘Wishing all a great year blessed with abundant happiness, good health, wealth, luck and fortune. 牛年行大运!’
Eilidh Hong, Glasgow

Chinese New Year Celebration 2021

On Friday 26th February 2021, Ricefield Arts hosted our very first online Chinese New Year Celebration. We celebrated Lantern Festival and the arrival of the Year of the Ox with friends from around the world, while our talented performers showcased the breadth of Chinese culture. The hour-long programme featured live performances of classical dance, martial arts, traditional instruments and lots more.

Philippa Barclay attended the event, and has kindly shared this blog post about her experience.

Ricefield Arts and Cultural Centre and the Confucius Institute for Scotland’s Schools (CISS) hosted a special Chinese New Year online event to mark the last day of Spring Festival, known as the Lantern Festival. I joined in on the online celebrations from the comfort of my home and am excited to share my experiences of the evening’s festivities.

The online celebration was held over Zoom and attracted over 360 guests joining from across the globe to watch the performances which showcased Chinese culture in a variety of formats including dance, musical instruments, martial arts, song, and poetry.

The event opened with speeches from Else Kek, Chair of Ricefield Arts & Cultural Centre and Fhiona Mackay, Director of CISS. We were then entertained by Shengnan Qiu playing some lively music on the erhu, a Chinese national orchestral instrument, with a vibrant performance of “Onwards and Upwards”.

Next on the programme was an opportunity to experience a powerful martial art display of a complex Choy Lee Fut Kung Fu fighting form called Small Plum Blossom Fist. The form is popular for public events, and Pui Lee’s impressive and complex performance took place outdoors.

We then moved on to some gentle singing by Fong Liu of three melodies which are popular for the Spring Festival period: “Congratulations”, “Sweet Honey” and “Winter Jasmine”. The recital was performed in traditional dress with beautiful lanterns in the background adding to the visual experience. Poetry recitals came next from Xiaochun Shen, with subtitles describing joyful scenes on New Year’s Day and the author’s positive expectations for the year ahead.

An interesting part of the evening was an introduction to a traditional Chinese Tea Ceremony showcasing the art of Chinese tea with beautiful Chinese art and music in the background and traditional tea sets. Being an avid tea drinker myself I enjoyed watching Shanshan Jiang’s detailed preparation and the intricate steps involved in presenting and serving the tea.

Lawrence Dunn performed two lively Dai folk songs on the sheng: “Mangshi Dam Tune” and “Wedding Banquet Song”. The sheng is one of the oldest musical instruments in China dating back to 1100 BCE. This was followed by another remarkable Chinese martial arts performance by Hing Fung Teh, this time in the form of a more soothing display of extracts from both the 24 and 42 Steps Tai Chi forms, with guests remarking on “music so peaceful it touches your soul”.

Annie Au gave a wonderful performance of the “Butterfly Lovers” fan dance which is a rendition of a folk tale of two lovers unable to be together who were reunited as butterflies, and lastly the event finished with a lively and upbeat performance from Eddie McGuire. He ended the show with “Purple Bamboo Melody” played on the dizi bamboo flute, accompanied by some chimes.

All in all, it was a lovely opportunity to connect with people from all around the world and experience a really enjoyable evening, getting the chance to experience some of the history of this important annual Chinese festival and the unique and beautiful traditions which accompany it.

We were delighted to partner with the Confucius Institute for Scotland’s Schools for this event, which allowed us to reach new audiences who are engaged in language learning across Scotland.

Our Chinese New Year Celebration was supported by Foundation Scotland and Glasgow City Council‘s Glasgow Communities Fund, as part of our Community Recovery & Wellbeing project.

An Introduction to Wishing Trees

For our latest blog post, work placement student Xiaochun Shen writes about the origin of wishing trees, a traditional custom during Chinese New Year celebrations.

There is a beautiful tale about the origins of the Wishing Tree.

At the end of the Qing Dynasty, in a small village, there lived a young man, named A Jun and a young woman, named Feng Er. They loved each other. When A Jun was 18, he wanted to participate in a naval battle. The two were reluctant to be separated and spent their last moments together under a tree in the village, before A Jun left. Alone, Feng Er went to the tree every day and wrapped a strip of yellow cloth on a branch, wishing that A Jun would return soon.

However, five years passed and A Jun did not come back to the village. The girl still waited for him. Finally, her parents forced her to marry another man. Feng Er tried to refuse the marriage but failed. The night before the wedding, Feng Er put on her wedding dress and went to the tree alone. On the day of the wedding, the whole village gathered to celebrate. However, they found Feng Er dressed in a bright wedding dress, lying quietly under the tree, with her eyes closed gently and a smile on her face. She slept forever.

While people witnessed this scene in surprise, the yellow cloth strips on the tree suddenly flew into the sky. At this time, the villagers watched as the yellow strips flying in the wind turned into an image of Feng Er and A Jun. They held hands and flew into the sky. From that day on, the legend states that if people hang a yellow cloth with their wishes on the tree and pray religiously, their wishes will come true. Over time, this has become a custom.

Lam Tsuen Wishing Tree in Hong Kong, 2019

This year, we’re inviting our community to make your wishes online on our virtual wishing tree. What are your dreams for the Year of the Ox? Submit your wishes here.

Chinese Ghost Stories: October 2020

On 29 October 2020 we had a lot of fun hosting Chinese Ghost Stories, an evening of storytelling and music. Over Zoom, our talented performers shared spooky tales from both China and Scotland, and we learned more about Chinese traditions and festivals.

The programme included a performance of Pu Songling’s The Painted Skin, alongside The Legend of the White Snake, A Ghost’s Promise, Solomon Ghost of the Panopticon and a very special guqin musical interlude.

Check out the video below for some of our highlights:

We would like to thank our performers: Yan Shi, Annie Au, Pui Lee, Judith Bowers, Andrew Glass, Xiaochun Shen, Menghan Sun, Mike Nelson and Lawrence Dunn.

The event was delivered in partnership with Britannia Panopticon, the world’s oldest surviving music hall. It was part of our Community Wellbeing and Recovery project, supported by Foundation Scotland and the Glasgow Communities Fund.

 

An Introduction to Mid-Autumn Festival 中秋节

This year Mid-Autumn Festival takes place on Thursday 1st October 2020. It celebrates what is said to be the fullest moon of the year – families typically come together to share the autumn harvest, eat mooncakes and light lanterns. The festival has a long history, with its origins in the Shang Dynasty (1600–1046 BCE).

Below is a short introduction to the history and customs of the festival, written by Ricefield volunteer Xiaochun Shen.

Background

The Mid-Autumn Festival has a long lineage back to ancient celestial phenomenon worship, the custom of respecting the moon. In the autumn equinox (秋分) season of the 24 solar terms, it is the ancient Moon Festival, and the Mid-Autumn Festival comes from the traditional Moon Festival. The festival is held on the 15th day of the 8th month of the lunar calendar with a full moon at night, corresponding to mid-September to early October in the Gregorian calendar.

The Mid-Autumn Festival became an officially recognised national holiday, probably in the Tang Dynasty. During the Tang Dynasty, the customs of the Mid-Autumn Festival became popular, and the custom of admiring the moon was combined with myths and stories such as Chang’e Flying to the Moon and Yang Guifei Turning into the Moon God.

The Mid-Autumn Festival brings together families for a yearly reunion. On the night of the Mid-Autumn Festival, all families will appreciate the moon and eat moon cakes.

Customs

Worshipping the moon

Worshipping the moon is an old Chinese custom, which can be traced to the ancients worshipping the the Moon God. Since ancient times, in some areas of Guangdong, people have worshipped the moon god on the night of Mid-Autumn Festival. The whole family will worship the moon in turn, praying for blessings.

Lantern

On the night of the Mid-Autumn Festival, there is a custom of lighting up lanterns to complement the moonlit scene. Every family uses bamboo sticks to make lanterns more than ten days before the festival. Various lanterns are made to celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival.

Moon cakes

Moon cakes were offered in ancient times as part of the Mid-Autumn Festival worship. Moon cakes symbolise family reunion and in present day have become a festive food of Mid-Autumn Festival.

Dragon Boat Festival Music Concert: June 2020

Ricefield Arts was delighted to host a very special Dragon Boat Festival celebration on 25th June 2020. We brought together talented performers from across Scotland for an evening of traditional Chinese music on Zoom.  This video is a selection of highlights, including performances of guzheng, guqin, pipa, bamboo flute, erhu and Peking Opera.

Watch our performers Dr Quan Gu, Yinuo Liu, Jingliang Chen, Xuanming Liang, Lawrence Dunn, Yan Shi and Haoyan Zhang.

Would you like to find out more about these unique instruments? Find out more on this blog post by Ricefield Arts volunteer Menghan.

This event was part of our wellbeing project, which aimed to inspire, entertain and bring together our community during lockdown. It was a joint celebration with our event partners Confucius Institute for Scotland and Scotland-China Association, and was supported by Scottish Government Wellbeing Fund, Corra Foundation and SCVO.

An Introduction to Traditional Chinese Instruments

We’re looking forward to our Dragon Boat Festival music concert, to be held on Thursday 25th June. To help you prepare, Ricefield Arts volunteer Menghan has written an excellent blog highlighting the long history of some of the instruments you’ll hear at the concert.

Guzheng | 古筝

The guzheng, also known as a Chinese zither, is a Chinese plucked string instrument with a more than 2,500-year history. It was the most popular instrument in China. The modern guzheng commonly has 21, 25 or 26 strings, is 64 inches (1.6 m) long, while the oldest specimen yet discovered held 13 strings and was dated to around 500 BC, possibly during the Warring States period (475–221 BC).

Guzheng players often wear fingerpicks made from materials such as plastic, resin, tortoiseshell, or ivory on one or both hands. Many people are confused with the guzheng and guqin which is actually a Chinese zither with 7 strings played without moveable bridges.

Guzheng

Pipa | 琵琶

The pipa is a four-stringed Chinese musical instrument, belonging to the plucked category of instruments. Sometimes called the Chinese lute, the instrument has a unique pear-shaped wooden body with a varying number of frets ranging from 12 to 26. The pipa is one of the most popular Chinese instruments and has been played for almost two thousand years in China.

In China, many music and stories are related to this instrument. The most prevalent one is about a beauty called Wang Zhaojun (王昭君). It is said that Wang Zhaojun began a journey northward to marry a nomad ruler. She left her hometown on horseback on a bright autumn morning and along the way, the horse neighed, making Zhaojun extremely sad and unable to control her emotions. As she sat on the saddle, she began to play sorrowful melodies on a stringed instrument. A flock of geese flying southward heard the music, saw the beautiful young woman riding the horse, immediately forgot to flap their wings, and fell to the ground. From then on, Zhaojun acquired the nickname “fells geese” or “drops birds.” Later, the melody she played on the saddle was regarded as Zhaojun’s Lament (昭君怨) and the stringed instrument was commonly depicted as a pipa.

A poem called Pipa xing (琵琶行) is also well known in China. It was written by a famous poet called Bai Juyi and it depicted a pipa performance during a chance encounter with a female pipa player on the Yangtze River. The most widely known sentences of this poem are describing the sound of pipa – the bold strings rattled like splatters of sudden rain, the fine strings hummed like lovers’ whispers, chattering and pattering, pattering and chattering, as pearls, large and small, on a jade plate fall (大弦嘈嘈如急雨,小弦切切如私语,嘈嘈切切错杂弹,大珠小珠落玉盘).

Pipa

Erhu | 二胡

The erhu is a two-stringed bowed musical instrument, more specifically a spike fiddle, which may also be called a Southern Fiddle. It is sometimes known in the Western world as the Chinese violin or a Chinese two-stringed fiddle.

The most widely known piece of erhu music in China is Two Springs Reflect the Moon (二泉映月), composed by the Wuxi folk artist Ah Bing (阿炳), whose original name was Hua Yanjun, a blind street musician. Two Springs Reflect the Moon expresses the composer’s suppressed grief at having tasted to the full the bitterness of life in the old society and it has become an exquisite example of Chinese instrumental folk music stemming from the heart of a small-town folk artist.

Erhu

Guqin | 古琴

The guqin is a plucked seven-string Chinese musical instrument of the zither family. It can also be called qixian-qin or seven-stringed zither (七弦琴). Similar to the guzheng above, it also has been played since ancient times, and has traditionally been favoured by scholars and literati as an instrument of great subtlety and refinement, as well as being associated with the ancient Chinese philosopher Confucius. It is sometimes referred to by the Chinese as “the father of Chinese music” or ‘the instrument of the sages’.

Guqin is commonly associated with a Chinese musician Bo Ya (伯牙) and his story of  ideal Chinese friendship. It is said that Bo Ya was good at playing the qin and Zhong Ziqi was good at listening to the qin. When Bo Ya played the guqin pieces Gao Shan 《高山》(meaning ‘high mountains’) and Liu Shui 《流水》(meaning ‘flowing  water’), Zhong Ziqi could see the real mountains and feel the rivers and oceans. When Ziqi died, Bo Ya broke the strings of his qin and vowed never to play the qin again. Thus, the term Zhiyin (知音, literally ‘to know the tone’) has come to describe a close and sympathetic friend and the melody of High Mountains Flowing Water has also come to be well-known.

Guqin

Dizi  | 笛子

The dizi is a Chinese transverse flute. It is also sometimes known as the di (笛) or héngdi (横笛), and has varieties including the qǔdi (曲笛) and bāngdi (梆笛). It is a major Chinese musical instrument that is widely used in many genres of Chinese folk music, Chinese opera, as well as the modern Chinese orchestra. The dizi is also a popular instrument among the Chinese people as it is simple to make and easy to carry.

Most dizi are made of bamboo, while it is also possible to find dizi made from other kinds of wood, or even from stone, for example, Jade dizi (or 玉笛; yùdi) are popular among both collectors interested in their beauty, and among professional players who seek an instrument with looks to match the quality of their renditions.

Dizi (Bamboo Flute)

Hulusi | 葫芦丝

The hulusi is a Chinese free reed wind instrument. Unlike the bamboo instrument above, it is held vertically and has three bamboo pipes that pass through a gourd wind chest; the centre pipe has finger holes and the outer two are typically drone pipes.

The hulusi has a very pure, very mellow clarinet-like sound. It was originally used primarily in Yunnan province by a number of ethnic minority groups, and has gained nationwide popularity throughout China.

Hulusi

An Introduction to Dragon Boat Festival

Dragon Boat Festival (Duanwujie) is a traditional festival typically celebrated in June, on the 5th day of the 5th month of the lunar year. This year the the festival falls on Thursday 25th June 2020.

We’re delighted to share a short introduction to this very special cultural celebration, written by Ricefield Arts volunteer Sherry.

Dragon Boat Festival is one of the four traditional Chinese festivals. According to the earliest historical materials, the original purpose of the Dragon Boat Festival was to ward off the evil spirits of the fifth lunar month, which is considered an unlucky month, always bringing natural disasters and illnesses. In addition, five poisonous creatures (green snakes, centipedes, scorpions, geckos and toads), together with dead people’s ghosts, are most likely to appear on the 5th of May. To get rid of bad luck, people hang Chung Kuei’s portraits on the door, drink Hsiung Huang Wine, bath in Moxa and wear fragrant sachets. People believe this grand celebration can protect them from evil and disease for the rest of the year.

Dragon Boat Racing at Glasgow Canal Festival in 2018

Another most popular origin story of the Dragon Boat Festival is centred around a respected government official named Chu Yuan, who threw himself into the Mi Lo River because of being tricked and becoming disfavoured by the emperor. The local people admired and respected him so much that they rushed into their boats to search for his body and they threw rice into the water so that fish and river dragons would not tear his body. Today, in memory of Chu Yuan, people take part in dragon boat racing and eat rice dumplings. Making and sharing rice dumplings is still the main family activity. Sticky rice triangular dumplings are loaded with jujube paste, bean paste, pork, ham, abalone, egg yolk, all wrapped in a large leaf and tied with string. Ancient poet Su Tungpo wrote a line for his favourite waxberry-stuffed rice dumplings, which is a flavour that cannot be found anymore (不独盘中见卢橘,时于粽里得杨梅). It is hard to imagine how it tastes; but it seems like in terms of eating, people in Song dynasty were much smarter than us.

Making zongzi rice parcels at Wing Hong Elderly Centre in 2019

Online Workshops: What to Expect

Some of our Community Workshop Leaders

Before the Workshop

After registering for one of our workshops you will receive a confirmation email, with a link to the Zoom meeting and the password you will be required to enter. Please keep this safe!

You can access Zoom meetings through the Zoom app – available for download here or from wherever you download apps on your tablet/smartphone. Please download the application in advance of the workshop, as it may take a few minutes. You don’t need to have an account to access our workshops, but you may set up one for free.

Joining the Workshop

When it’s time for the workshop, click on the link in your confirmation. Please ‘arrive’ on time. You may be prompted to enter your name and/or password, then you will be taken to the waiting room. The Workshop Host will then admit you to the meeting.

During the Workshop

During the meeting we ask you to mute your mic (we can help with this!), unless you are asking a question or we are having a group discussion. Video is required for some of workshops to allow the Workshop Leader to check on participant’s progress and offer assistance – if this is the case, it will be noted on the EventBrite listing.

The Workshop Host will introduce the workshop before handing over to the Workshop Leader. Questions during the workshop are encouraged! You can use the Zoom Chat function, and the Workshop Host will pass these on to the Workshop Leader. Or, you can wave/raise your hand and ask your question using your mic. Other key information will be shared in the Chat so keep an eye on it.

Questions

Don’t worry if you are new to Zoom (we are too!). The Workshop Host will help you if needed. If you have any questions before the workshop, contact laura [at] ricefield.org.uk. You can also read this handy guide for more information.

Volunteer blogs : Ricefield’s Chinese New Year Events 2020

Ricefield Arts had a busy month in February with our Chinese New Year celebrations programme.  This busy programme of activity wouldn’t have been possible without the support of our hard-working volunteer team.

A few of our volunteers had written blogs to share their experience taking part in and helping at our Chinese New Year events. Feel free read their blogs below. Thanks to our volunteer Debbie who helped us to take photos at Kelvin Hall & Riverside Museum too.

Volunteer blog 1:  Written by Jialin 

Chinese New Year Family Fun Day at Kelvin Hall 

Ricefield Arts organised the annual Chinese New Year celebrations with venue partner Kelvin Hall on Saturday 8 February 2020, I am honoured to be one of the volunteers with Ricefield this time, to help promoting traditional Chinese games and craft activities to visitors. Over thirty volunteers were recruited to support this event. We gathered at 10 am in the activity room in Kelvin Hall for a volunteer briefing, and headed to set up venue after.

My task of the day was to interact with the visitors at the chopstick challenge table.  The visitors who took part in the chopstick challenge were asked to pick up objects of different sizes using chopsticks, and those who completed the challenge were given fortune cookies as their reward. To my surprise, some parents are able to use chopsticks very well, and have shown their interest in Chinese food and culture. We taught many children to use chopsticks and it was fun to see the children keep practicing enthusiastically. I was really happy! ꒰ᐢ⸝⸝•-•⸝⸝ᐢ꒱

My favourite activity was the origami (paper folding) workshop beside our table. I took opportunity during my break to learn some paper folding technique from other volunteers manning the origami table. I was proud to turn a piece of square paper to a little origami rat!

There were other interesting activities being delivered as part of the event, including a lion dance performance. Watching a lion dance performance is one of the traditional customs of the Chinese New Year. Being able to see a lion dance in the UK really touched the hearts of every overseas student. The children and everyone of us enjoyed the performance.| ᐕ)⁾⁾

The event ended at four in the afternoon. I was very lucky to met many talented friends and other volunteers from Ricefield through this event. This is my first time participating in Ricefield’s activities, but it will not be the last time. I hope we will meet again next time! .^◡^.

 

Volunteer blog 2:  Written by Silin

Chinese New Year Family Fun Day at Kelvin Hall

The Chinese New Year event at Kelvin Hall was very interesting! There were many booths! Other than traditional activities like Chinese lanterns making and Chinese calligraphy writing, we also delivered interactive games such as shuttlecock kicking. There were activities suitable for different age groups, and the event was well attended by families with children.

As a volunteer at the Chinese calligraphy table, I felt that I was no longer just an ordinary volunteer, but more like a participant. I had been practising Chinese calligraphy writing throughout the event happily while demonstrating to all visitors.

The most memorable thing for me was the lion dance. As a Cantonese who is familiar with this activity, I think the lion dance was very authentic. The crowd applauded enthusiastically when they saw it, and the children were so excited to see the lion.

 

Volunteer blog 3 :  Written by Menghan

Chinese New Year Family Fun Day at Kelvin Hall

I had a wonderful experience with Ricefield Arts in their annual Chinese New Year celebrations event on 8 February. It was my first time taking part in volunteering work in Glasgow and also in the UK. I really enjoyed the volunteering experience and also meeting many new friends there.

Chinese New Year Celebration is an annual event of Ricefield Arts to engage with the diverse communities through cultural sharing. As a volunteer, we enjoyed the opportunity given to us to interact with the local communities through delivering activities. 35 volunteers were recruited to support this event, and all of us were asked to gather in the Kelvin Hall at 10am on that day for preparation works. We displayed a traditional lion head, which represents good luck and fortune, on the information booth to attract visitors. There was also a wishing tree beside the information booth for visitors to make a wish.

I was mainly based at the lantern making workshop during the event.  This activity was most popular with children, and we had been extremely busy. We taught them how to make their own paper lanterns step-by-step. It was meaningful for me to teach someone to learn about a traditional Chinese craft such as making lanterns.  Children were so happy to leave the table with the lanterns they made themselves.

I have learnt a lot through this event. Although I was a newcomer for Ricefield Arts, I believe that I would keep volunteering with them in the future. Thank you and see you soon!

 

Volunteer blog 4:  Written by Nancy 

Chinese New Year Family Fun Day at Riverside Museum

We had a busy day delivering activities at the Chinese New Year event at the Riverside Museum. The event was on the last day of Chinese New Year period, which also known as ‘The Lantern Festival’. Because of that, ‘The Street’ inside the Riverside Museum was decorated with a lot of red lanterns, and we delivered lantern making as one of our activities. Our volunteers showed the process of making simple Chinese lanterns to visitors, and guided the children to make, design and decorate their own paper lanterns. This activity was popular among children and we believe this type of craft activity stimulated children’s creativity.

This year is the Chinese Year of the Rat. We hosted a few Chinese zodiac animals storing telling session for children inside the subway station. We also had a Chinese zodiac booth for visitors to find out their Chinese zodiac animals, and its corresponding meaning on the display boards we have made in advance.

We also had a photo booth corner for visitors to try Chinese traditional clothing ‘Hanfu’. Volunteers had a great time demonstrating colourful Hanfu to the visitors. They also helped those interested to try on and took photos. . Different designs of Hanfu in ancient China reflected different life styles and social status. For example, the style of Hanfu worn by the emperor and the royal family would look very different.

Overall, the event has been very successful, bringing people a lot of fun while sharing the beauty of Chinese culture.

Volunteer blog 5:  Written by Sherry 

Chinese New Year Workshops at Princes Square

It was the first time I participated in Ricefield’s event. We delivered some craft activities at the courtyard inside the Princes Square to celebrate Chinese New Year. The courtyard was transformed and featured a lovely pagoda and red carpets. Families were invited to take part in a series of Chinese craft workshops. 

My main task was to teach people to make a lantern, and most of them were children. To be honest, I never made a lantern on my own before, so I was shown the technique and quickly learnt to make a few before the workshop. When I started making one with a group of children by my side, I felt that the whole process was manageable and incredibly calming.

I heard there were other craft workshops, such as dragon puppet and CNY hanging decoration making, being delivered by Ricefield Arts at Princes Square on other days too. I took part in the activities on Sunday 2nd February, Other than the lantern making, we also had Chinese calligraphy demonstration and chopstick games, which were hugely enjoyable as well.

Back in China, I’ve never cherished my own culture so much as I did in princess square that day. Being surrounded by the crowd who was attracted by our craft stalls and with many asking us questions about china makes me realised how attractive Chinese culture is. I was overwhelmingly delightful to see Chinese culture being appreciated by local residents. As the old song goes ‘I belong to Glasgow…, Glasgow belongs to me….’ This volunteering opportunity provided an opportunity for me to connect to this magnificent city. 

 

Volunteer blog 6:  Written by Zhengduo

Chinese New Year Event at Perth 

On 2nd February, I participated in Ricefield’s Chinese Yew year activity in Perth, as part of the Winter Festival Night Lights event. I was pleased with that, and it was an excellent experience for me.

I found the information from WeChat group several days before the activity. I signed up without hesitation. What’s more, since I have been to Scotland, I didn’t go to any city farther north than Glasgow. This was an excellent chance to visit another city in Scotland.

We were asked to arrive at the meeting point 30 minutes before departure. We helped to moved all stock into the minibus. Interestingly, I came across three big pots of hot water within our stock, and I did not know what would we do with them. It took us about 1 hour to travel to Perth by minibus. On the way, I found it was raining outside. When we arrived in Perth, the weather didn’t get better, and I also felt cold.

However, the weather could not stop our passion, and everyone seemed to be very happy and full of expectation. At that time, I knew why I was told to wear my warm coat before the departure and why we brought the hot water! The event took place at the Norrie Miller Walk, a beautiful riverside local park in Perth. All volunteers were assigned tasks on arrival and we started to set up. We had a merchandise stall to sell Chinse arts and crafts merchandise at the event. We also delivered some traditional craft activities, and as ‘Bookmark Making’, ‘Paper Dragon Making’, ‘Learn About Your Chinese Name’, etc to engage with the visitors.

After a simple dinner, the celebration began. In the beginning, everyone was so shy that no one came to see us. However, as time went by, we successfully attracted the first one, then, more and more people came to us. It was a hectic day. During the activity, there were a few interesting things. As we got an activity to help visitors to find their Chinese names, and we also helped them to write their Chinese names on the bookmark. Sometimes, we found these two names were totally different. I had to explain to them what was a transliterated name and what was a translated name. Then I faced another problem. A local woman was very interesting Chinese words, and she found characters projected to the ground, and she took the photo to ask me. To be honest, it was so difficult because those characters were completely upside down after the projection. I finally understood them with the help of other volunteers, but another question was, how could I translate these Chinese idioms into English. I tried my best to explain. Luckily, she finally understood what I meant and  left happily.

I thought this was a meaningful activity. This is not only promoting Chinese traditional culture but also gave me a deeper understanding of cultural knowledge. I feel more confident with my interpersonal skill through the face-to-face communications with the local communities, and I was also very impressed with the friendliness of the Scottish people. I am now a member of Ricefield’s marketing group, and I hope that I can do my best to help promoting Chinese culture, to engage with people from different cultures, while improving my communication skills.

 

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