Gōng Xǐ Fā Cái! - Happy New Year
The beginning of February marked the start of the year of the Rabbit on the Chinese zodiac, and demonstrated more than ever the strengthening partnership between the UK and China with celebrations hitting universities nationwide.
Amongst the most spectacular celebrations was at the University of Exeter, presented by the Chinese Student Scholars Association (CSSA). Thousands of students attended a grand opening with a spectacular firework display, a dragon and lion parade, Chinese market, and a Chinese variety spectacular. Like the rest of the CNY celebrations in the UK, Exeter celebrated an increasing diversity in the city with 20 per cent of the students from overseas, most of them Chinese. It is not just about the Chinese students celebrating their New Year, it is also about sharing their tradition with the West and forming a stronger partnership in an increasingly globalised society.
The University of Nottingham's School of Contemporary Chinese Studies (SCCS) hosts the Nottingham Confucius Institute and is recognised as the nation's leading institution for the research and study of China. This New Year, the Nanjing Xiao Hong Hua (Little Red Flower) Arts Troupe performed at the CNY Gala at the Lakeside Arts Centre on 8 February, showcasing glittering forms of Chinese opera, dance show, traditional Chinese music concert, and musical. Xiao Hong Hua have toured over 20 countries and is one of the first children's comprehensive art ensembles ever organized in China, combining fundamental education and art performance. The NCI also hosted workshops in TaiChi and Chinese paper cutting to get the community involved in traditional Chinese cultural activities.
Sound of Music
Cardiff University’s Chinese Students and Scholars Association (CSSA) presented a celebratory Gala at Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales in
association with the Cardiff Confucius Institute. There was a martial
art display, folk dances, traditional Chinese instruments and Chinese
Jazz. The gala is only a small part of the celebrations at Cardiff
University, other events include an exhibition of ancient Chinese rock
carvings and a Chinese Family Fun Weekend on February 19-20 where there
will be a variety of workshops to introduce families to Chinese culture
As China plays an increasingly prominent role on the global stage, Chinese culture is growing to be a big part of Western society. There are Confucius institutes in ten universities in the UK that exist to raise awareness of the language and traditions that shape Chinese society and an increasing number of students are choosing to opt for a more oriental path of higher education.
Although not traditionally one of the four 'Asian Tigers', China is swiftly catching up with the economic race, now officially the second biggest economy in the world, and is subsequently attracting a lot of attention of those interested in big business and finance. In 2009 40 million people were said to be learning Chinese as a foreign language, up from 24 million in 2004, and this is merely one indication that everything Chinese has become a global interest. Confucius Institutes are continuing to pop up across the country and before long most universities will have a department dedicated to Chinese studies for those interested in contributing to the partnership with one of the most powerful nations in the world. The first Confucius Institute opened in Seoul, Korea in 2004 and by the end of 2010, 322 had opened in 96 countries and regions around the world. It is predicted that in ten years time China will have the same size economy as the United States – perhaps now is the time to start learning Chinese!