Here is a recap of our day at Glasgow Mela from Ricefield Volunteer, Laura Matheson:
‘Sunday 17 July was definitely one of my most memorable days volunteering with Ricefield so far, even if it also was the most busy! It was finally Glasgow Mela festival time, and after appearing at many Mela on Your Doorstep events, we were all excited for the main event.
The team started early (although, admittedly I was one of the lucky ones on the afternoon shift) transporting an array of crafts supplies, snacks and general Chinese goodies over from Ricefield HQ to Kelvingrove Park, praying the wet weather would stay off for the day. Our two stalls were set up without any rain, very luckily for those in the outdoor Kids Zone! The crowds grew quickly at 12pm when the festival began, and suddenly the park was alive with sound, colour and the smells of food from around the world. Ricefield got our dance moves out once again to celebrate, and started the day off with a traditional lion dance.
Over at our sales stall, historical Chinese costumes were hung up, the magic calligraphy mats were unraveled and the lanterns were out in every shape and size. We were in a great position to enjoy the entertainment, across from one of the many stages showcasing international music and dance. I had to concentrate however, as my main focus for the day was our raffle tickets, tucked inside the red envelopes you may be familiar with from Chinese New Year. I was very happy to award our grand prize; a personalised calligraphy scroll, as well as sharing Chinese lucky sweets. The calligraphy team were busy as always, with Lu and Shu teaching characters and creating very popular temporary Chinese tattoos. Next to them festival-goers could try out Chinese costumes from throughout the dynasties, and we were lucky to have quite a few emperors at the stall. Somehow, we also managed to fit in selling a selection of Chinese treats, including fortune cookies and kites, with all funds going back into supporting Ricefield’s work.
The other half of our hardworking team spent the day under a tree, teaching children (and interested adults!) Chinese crafts. Huiyun shared her origami skills, Charlie helped build paper lanterns, while Clarinda taught the crowds how to make their own Chinese kites. The scene itself was magical, as the lanterns dangled from the tree and people tested their new creations in the breeze. It perhaps wasn’t sunny, but this was picturesque enough I think!
Getting to experience the festival from the perspective of a volunteer really made the day special for me, as I appreciated not only highlighting Chinese culture, but also being part of this wider celebration of Glasgow’s diversity and multiculturalism. I enjoyed chatting to visitors about China, while eating some amazing Indian ice cream and sharing Mexican tacos, and finishing it off by watching some Bhangra dancing. It really was a day to reflect on Glasgow as an international city, making Ricefield’s work with Chinese communities and culture seem all the more vital as part of our shared growth.’
To see more of our photos from Glasgow Mela, you can visit our Facebook page.