Staff of the Confucius Institute at Western Michigan University and its Soga Japan Center participated in an Asia Festival on October 18, 2012 hosted by the Inland Lake School in Indian River, Mich.
About 60 seventh and eighth graders participated in the festival, where they learned about Asian culture, crafts and cooking. WMU staff included, Jun Zeng, Yin Long and Linjia Jiang from the Confucius Institute and Michiko Yoshimoto, outreach coordinator for the Soga Japan Center.
Long kicked off the morning with a half-hour presentation on traditional Chinese games, including games devoted to sports, literature and science. The students were then divided into two groups to play traditional Chinese games, such as “Kick the Shuttlecock” and “Blind Man’s Bluff.” Though short, the presentation allowed the American students to get a better understanding of Chinese games and to compare them with familiar Western games.
Later that morning, the students circulated in small groups into 30-minute sessions to try their hands at origami, cooking, paper cutting and identifying Asian flags. Yoshimoto led the origami demonstration and Zeng, Long and Jiang taught the students to complete a paper cutting in Chinese characters that represented the word, “happiness,” in two forms.
During the lunch break, the students went into the kitchen and helped cook and eat several Chinese dishes. After lunch, Yoshimoto gave a half-hour introduction on Japanese culture. Then the students got into small groups to circulate through 30-minute sessions about drama, Tibet and Nepal, calligraphy, Chinese painting and Philippine culture.
Yoshimoto led the calligraphy session. The Chinese instructors taught the students how to paint a panda with a brush. Zeng also shared with the students some basic information about the Chinese panda.
The event ended near the end of the school day. The teachers and students expressed their gratitude for the opportunity to learn more about Asia and encouraged the WMU staff to visit again!