|HHS Center is pleased to welcome the following new arrivals in the month of November:|
|Laura from Italy (1 year program)
Mariola from Poland (1 year program)
In the month of November HHS celebrated a number of birthdays. We wish the following Cultural Ambassadors a very Happy Birthday!
生日快乐(sheng ri kuai le)！
Marjolaine, Ricki, James, Silvia, Karina, and Virginia
KTV in Chinese is a Lot More Fun!
By Danitza Moreno
HHS organizes a monthly activity for Cultural Ambassadors to get to know each other better, relax and enjoy; everything through a Chinese culture experience. This month, it was all about showcasing our talents. We went for some karaoke time!
Everything was ready, on November 12th some au pairs, HHS staff and our two lovely Chinese teachers got together at 12 o´clock in the office building, from where we walked for about 15 minutes till we reached our destination.
For those who are not familiar with Chinese culture I have to warn you; karaoke or KTV as locals call it, is a VERY Chinese experience. I don’t think you would be able to find anything like it in western countries, since KTVs in China are everywhere, very stylish, loud and of course, a lot of fun.
The one we picked for our adventure this time, had a very nice waterfall at the entrance and a crystal cascade falling from the ceiling. Usually the karaoke is divided into different rooms made to fit different amounts of people. Rooms are spacious, have coffee tables and a comfortable L-shape sofa.
The memories created with these monthly activities will last forever, we hope next time more Cultural Ambassadors are able to join and we are looking forward to get together and have some fun embracing China.
Mexican Day of the DeadPresentation by HHS Cultural Ambassadors Danitza Moreno and Karina Flores
Though we are living in China and immersing ourselves in the local culture, our participants never forget where they came from and are always eager to share their own traditions. HHS staff and a Cultural Ambassadors were given a very informative and interesting presentation by Danitza and Karin from Mexico on their country’s Day of the Dead. Day of the Dead is celebrated in Mexico on November 1st and 2nd and is a time to honor loved ones who have died. Danitza and Karina explained how their families celebrate this holiday and they even prepared an alter and placed decorations in the HHS Beijing office to bring the festival to life. Here is there presentation:
In Mexico, to celebrate Day of the Dead, we usually make an alter like this but bigger. The alter has a lot of elements but basically it’s a combination of indigenous Mexican traditions and Catholicism. The 2nd of November in Mexico the indigenous people used to celebrate death. It was not a sad day, it was actually a happy day because we would think about that person’s life, what they liked to do, and what they liked to eat.
Then when Catholicism went to Mexico, the priests and the Catholic church tried to make a transition from indigenous religion to Catholicism for the indigenous people. They tried to make it easier by combining traditions. For example, on the alter you can see the cross which is a Catholic item, but its on the traditional indigenous alter.
We believe that on this day, the dead people will come to our houses to eat dinner so that’s why we put food on the alter.
This is my Grandma [in the photo on the alter]. She passed away exactly November 1st last year so this alter is for her.
This is a kind of Maya alter so you see three levels. On the first level we put some food; basically they are her favorite foods. The candles are the light to guide her way. There are flowers on the second level and on the second level we usually also put something that she liked to do. She liked playing poker. On the first level we put the cross and her picture.
These days, though foreigners find it freaky, we go to the cemetery to eat and share food with the dead.
Yesterday we made these candies with my host sister. These candies are in a skeleton skull shape but we usually make them in a lot of shapes such as fruits. They’re just icing sugar with lemon and some coloring.
We hope you enjoyed our presentation and you can try the sweets. That’s it, we just wanted to share this with you!
Shu’s Steps: Exploring the Ancient Hutongs of Beijing
Imagine exploring 600 years of China’s history one step at a time. Shu Liao has done just that and this is the story nostalgic journey through the past.
The historic hutongs of Beijing are formed by the small alleyways and courtyard residences that snake through the city. The word “hutong” is of Mongolian origin and means “town”. Originally the hutongs were part of the residential design that divided the social classes of the Zhou Dynasty (1027 – 256 BC). They were formed orderly, lined by spacious homes and walled gardens. Farther from the palace, and to its north and south, were the commoners, merchants, artisans, and laborers. Their siheyuan (homes surrounding a courtyard) were far smaller in scale and simpler in design and decoration, and the hutongs were narrower。
Nearly all siheyuan had their main buildings and gates facing south for better lighting; thus a majority of hutongs ran from east to west. Between the main hutongs, many tiny lanes ran north and south for convenient passage.
Shu’s journeys through the hutongs were inspired by his fond memories of childhood, spent playing ball with friends and exploring the many courtyards and passages of these ancient alleyways. Beyond the walls of his home Shu spied a world much different than the sprawling towers and endless streets that are today’s Beijing. The world outside the wall was one of vast fields, gurgling moats and horse drawn carriages.
This nostalgia combined with a particular event in 1966 encouraged Shu to begin his walk through the past. On his way home from work almost 50 years ago Shu came across the demolition of the Xuanumen Gate Tower, an historic building that used to flank Qianmen on the Southern walls and was once an execution ground during the Qing Dynastey. As a youth, Shu could often be found playing under the structure, passing away the happy hours of his childhood.
In the 1980s, fearing that eventually there would be nothing left of the original city, Shu resolved to memorialize these places by mode of memory, pencil, paper and camera. For more than 15 years, the retiree surveyed the old hutongs by foot, literally measuring his steps.
Shu, along with his camera began his survey in Sichuanying Hutong on Luomashi Street and moved east step by step. His initial detailed documentation left him exhausted after only covering a short distance. He decided to only rough sketch his surroundings and then refine the details later by converting the irregularities at home. Shu learned that five of his measured steps were exactly equal to three meters. He adopted this method of pacing for the remainder of his travels since it proved to be much less laborious than a series of measurements using a roll of tape.
Shu had the intention early on to preserve the memory of the hutongs in the anticipation of their eventual demise. He therefore decided to make his first visits to those areas already scheduled for demolition.
Shu traced 3,600 of Beijing’s largest hutongs along with the seemingly infinite smaller ones. However, Shu’s ambition was greater and his next task was to document and measure the physical objects within. With no formal education in mapping, surveying, design or architecture, Shu set forth to bring life to his measurements. His love of the city can be seen in the detailed renderings of archways, trees, and wells.
One stroll introduced Shu to Mr. Qian Hongxu, a 98 year old man with a long white beard who was the thirty-third generation descendant of the ruler of Wuyue State during the Five Dynasties (907-960). Though bed-ridden for more than 10 years, Qian had retained his sense of humor and his vivid train of thought. His ancestors settled in Beijing in the reign of Daoguang Emperor during the Qing Dynasty(1644-1911). The family had formerly documented its lineage and corselet. The plaque on the door that initially caught Shu’s attention was indeed inscribed by the emperor.
Shu’s documentations and recordings have been preserved and published in several Chinese newspapers and magazines. He’s now eighty years old but can still be found touring the city in his bicycle with his thick framed glasses and a camera dangling beneath his neck.
Rapid municipal construction can easily be seen wherever you go in Beijing. Whether you are living here in the city or travelling abroad, take some time to trace some of Shu’s footsteps and enjoy the leisurely pace of the hutongs. They’ve been describe as the blood vessels of the city and are the best way to become connected with the pulse of historic Beijing.