For this month we are happy to welcome new arrivals: Paul from France, Maria from Poland, Georgia from the United Kingdom, and Feodora from Germany. Welcome to China!
Thanks so much to those who contributed their presence and excellent food at the HHS potluck lunch on Monday, October 15th. Germany, Mexico, Canada, Poland and China were deliciously represented by their native foods.
Joining us were several Chinese students from Minzu University of China located here in Beijing. The students have joined HHS Center as friends and cultural exchange partners. HHS Center hopes to maintain a long lasting relationship with the students from Minzu to promote language exchange and enrich our cultural program. We welcome them to our community.
You can expect similar events in the future. For those of us living abroad, a strong group of friends and community is important. What better way to celebrate our similarities and differences than over good food? Cheers to our new friends and a beautiful autumn in Beijing!
Shanghai Participants Zombie Crawl on Halloween!
Halloween is not just a holiday celebrated in the West! China has taken to decorating, dressing up, and throwing theme parties for numerous occidental holidays and Halloween is no exception! On All Hallows Eve, Shanghai Cultural Ambassadors Caitlin, Analleli, Gosia, Ransler, and Alijca joined HHS Shanghai staff William and Phoenix for a festive night out on the town. The fun started off with a zombie crawl down Shanghai’s famous shopping street Nanjing Road and finished off at a local watering hole, City Bull.
Mid Autumn Festival
In China, Mid Autumn Festival (or Moon Festival) is celebrated on the fifteenth day of the eighth lunar month, usually falling somewhere between mid September and mid October, and always occurring during a full moon. This year the celebration took place on Sunday, September 30th.
The purpose of Mid Autumn Festival is to celebrate the harvest and to welcome the onset of winter. In China, the phases of the moon symbolize change and completing cycles in life. Likewise, a full moon represents reunion, a full cycle, so Mid Autumn Festival is also seen as an important time to reunite with family and old friends. The Moon Festival is also a time to worship the goddess Chang E, who is said to live on the moon for eternity, looking out over the earth where her love Hou Yi was slain.
What started out as basic moon worship in the Xia and Shang Dynasties (2000 B.C.-1066 B.C.) became more fervent throughout the Zhou Dynasty(1066 B.C.-221 B.C.) the Tang Dynasty(618-907 A.D.) In the Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279 A.D.) people began sending gifts to relatives and friends in the form of miniature cakes shaped like full moons. It was also during this time that the festival transformed into more of a family holiday; a chance for families to reunite, go sightseeing, and go moon gazing together at night. In the Ming (1368-1644 A.D. ) and Qing Dynasties (1644-1911A.D.), took on new customs which varied around China such as lighting lanterns, planting trees, and fire dragon dances.
Nowadays, Mid Autumn Festival is not as ardently celebrated as it was in the past. Nevertheless, many Chinese still enjoy strolling out at night to gaze at the bright round moon and sharing moon cakes with friends and family. Moon cakes came about back in the Song dynasty (A.D. 960-1280). They were later used in the Yuan dynasty (A.D.1271–1368) when leaders of the rebellion against Mongol rule in China hid secret messages about the revolution in moon cakes as a pretense to celebrate the Moon Festival. The message was received and the rebels successfully overthrew the foreign government.
Today, there are countless varieties of moon cake. Fillings include red bean paste, dates, egg yolk, nuts, and much more. Even international corporations have started selling moon cakes around the Mid Autumn Festival like Starbuck’s chocolate filled and Dairy Queen’s ice cream filled varieties.
HHS China Program News
2012 Training Out-trip to Pinggu
On October 23rd HHS Staff and cultural exchange participants traveled East of Beijing to Pinggu (平谷区) for three days of climbing, hiking and cultural exchange workshops. Having so many of our participants together in the mountains was an exciting experience. We sincerely appreciate the feedback, teamwork and enthusiasm from everybody who attended.
Pinngu is home to many farming communities, sprawling mountains and rambling, remote sections of The Great Wall. Our group found itself nestled among the changing leaves right under a section of The Wall itself.
Our hikes brought us to the pavilion-topped peaks of several mountains for scenic views in all directions and below we conducted our activities, seminars and workshops in the resort town.
As HHS moves toward a new and improved cultural exchange program for 2013 it begins to draw on the opinions and experience of its current participants. Through several scenarios, presentations and discussion groups we learned about ways to improve communication between our participants and host families. Areas to improve in the future continue to be schedule clarity and flight dates.
Our staff would like to especially thank Danitza Moreno and Rikki Trainor for their excellent presentations on their host families and their experiences in China. They reminded us that a cultural exchange experience with a family in China can be difficult at first but is ultimately about growth and compromise and developing a lasting relationship with the host children. Danitza coming from Mexico and Ricki from Canada obviously encountered some extreme cultural differences. In order to overcome the initial difficulties it’s important to observe, adapt and take everything one step at a time with an eagerness to learn and a sense of humour.
Thanks also to Alena Lyagotskaya for her presentation on Astana, the capital of her home country, Kazakhstan. Alena ‘s presentation is an example of the rich cultural cross section of HHS exchange participants. It’s rare for so many representatives of different countries, (Mexico, Canada, Poland, U.k., Germany, France, Ecuador, Kazakhstan) to be together for one event.
Evening activities included Karaoke, three legged races and an “interesting” performance of Gangnam Style by the HHS staff. We sincerely value having had so many staff and participants together in such a beautiful setting and look forward towards future events.
All the best,
The HHS Team