March 5, 2004

Students Observe Chinese Culture

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From Feb. 23 through March 9, the Chinese Students and Scholars Association (CSSA), with support from the East Asia Program, will be hosting their first ever China Culture Week, highlighting Chinese culture, traditions and heritage.

There are a variety of activities planned for the week, including Chinese movies, lectures, photo exhibitions and food tasting.

All of the activities are open to members of the Cornell community and the public.

The CSSA hopes to display the Chinese culture through the eyes of the common folk throughout history and today, according to Jinpain Diao grad, the event’s organizer.

Diao explained, “The purpose of the CSSA is to offer opportunities for Chinese students and scholars to get to know each other and have fun for their spare time.”

“We are all graduate students who put the China Culture Week together. We came to Cornell and realized that the American people’s image of China is outdated and we wanted to show them what China really is,” she said.

The volunteers who organized the cultural week aimed at introducing the authentic image of the Chinese common people’s lives to the Cornell population.

“Our objective was to promote the ordinary occurrences of people’s lives in China, focusing on culture and daily activities,” Diao said. “Personally, I feel that most Chinese people are really emotional and energetic because we are under pressure because we are foreign students here at Cornell. There is a huge difference between the American and Chinese cultures, so this week shows the American people what we are all about.”

Author Yu Hua lectured on “Why I Write” last week, with over 130 students in attendance to hear about his new novel.

“Mr. Hua was an outstanding speaker. We are so proud to have him talk,” Diao said. “For the project, we approached him about the China Culture Week and he thought it was a great idea to show the American community what we are all about.”

Cathy Gu Kaijia grad is the liaison between the CSSA and the EAP and advised the programs on funding for the week’s events.

“I am an outreach assistant for the EAP so I have been trying to help the CSSA on how to promote their activities for the week,” Kaijia said. “Jinpain is a very good leader and she approached us to help with funding and provide more volunteers for the week.”

The goal of the week, according to Kaijia is to “show the continuing rich culture that Chinese people love. This week shows both the updated Chinese culture with the traditional values of our heritage.”

The food tasting is the main event of the week. Chinese students will prepare and serve authentic Chinese cuisine to the at Okenshields tomorrow from 4 to 6 p.m. Tickets are available for $5 at the Straight box-office.

“Most people are familiar with southern Chinese food, but this food tasting will also have some homemade northern Chinese food as well,” Kaijia said.

The events have allowed students to bond over their similarities and differences, living as Chinese students in the United States, according to Diao.

“All of the credit for the China Culture Week goes to the CSSA. They did a great job teaching others about our heritage and culture,” Kaijia said.

She said, “We are definitely considering doing this again next year.”

Archived article by Allison Markowitz