Knowing All about Hunan

International Students Experience Chinese New Year

Updated:2024-02-05 14:32:14

Some international students studying at the Hunan University of Chinese Medicine took a group photo on February 2. (Photo/Tang Xiaoqing)

"When I was studying in Pakistan, I learned about the Chinese tradition of using the color red to celebrate Chinese New Year and presenting red envelops and pasting spring couplets to express New Year wishes," said Du Ruimang (Chinese name), a  Pakistani student studying in the Hunan University of Chinese Medicine, adding that "Now I am in China, experiencing the strong festive atmosphere. I found out that the upside-down '福' character means that blessing and good fortune are coming." He wrote down "Happy New Year" in Urdu with a Chinese ink brush.

February 2 marked the traditional Xiaonian, which signifies the start of the countdown to Chinese Lunar New Year, in the northern regions of China. On that afternoon, the university held a Spring Festival party, inviting the international students from 29 countries such as Russia, the UK, Canada, South Korea, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, and Mongolia to experience and participate in the Chinese New Year celebrations.

The party site was decorated with red lanterns and patterns of Chinese dragon. The international students dressed in Hanfu costumes, and tasted Chinese traditional snacks such as Beijing's Tanghulu (candied hawthorn skewers) , Changsha's stinky Tofu, Tangyuan (glutinous rice balls) boiled with fermented sweet rice wine, Tianjin's fried dough twists, and Dragon's beard candy of Anhui Province. They also tried their hands at paper cutting, writing spring couplets, Pitch-pot game, and making rubbings of the Chinese New Year paintings.

Sudanese girl Mimi loved Peking roast duck, West Lake fish in sweet and sour sauce, and spicy tofu. "In my country, many youth people are interested in Chinese traditional Mamian skirt, and love to discuss Chinese culture and folk custom on social platforms. I will send the videos of today's party to my friends in Africa, sharing the festive atmosphere of Chinese New Year with them," she said.

Guo Juanjuan is a 22-year-old student from Indonesia has a familial connection to China as her parents were born in China's Fujian Province. "There are also sugar figures and Xiaolongbao (steamed meat bun) in Indonesia. I feel a sense of kinship when I saw these at the party," she said. The Chinese people in Indonesia would present red envelops and pay New Year visits to each other during the Spring Festival, and do cleaning at the Chinese New Year Eve, she added. Her parents often taught her the traditional Chinese etiquettes.

"I wish for an everlasting friendship between China and Pakistan," Pakistani girl Mu Yue wrote down her wishes and put it into a mailbox of wishes. She tried her hands at making dumplings and paper cutting at the party. "A variety of art shows and other celebrations have been held to mark the 70th anniversary of the establishment of the diplomatic relationship between China and Pakistan since 2021. I want to learn about China's culture, economy, and sci-tech development through my study in China," she said. She planned to organize a WeChat group of Pakistani students, calling on them to leverage their respective strengths to promote China-Pakistan communication and exchanges in such areas as literature, museums, art, journalism, youth, education, and sports.

An international student of the Hunan University of Chinese Medicine showed her calligraphic work of "福"  character on February 2. (Photo/Tang Xiaoqing)

As the traditional Chinese medicine becomes popular overseas, an increasing number of international students have come to study in the Hunan University of Chinese Medicine. There are currently more than 150 international students in the university. This trend provides a valuable platform for promoting TCM on a global scale.

A series of activities will be held during the Spring Festival, such as short video competition of Chinese culture and Chinese poetry learning, to enhance the international students' understanding of Chinese culture, and communication and interaction between Chinese and foreign students and teachers. On the evening of the Lantern Festival, a special fireworks show will be staged at the university, offering opportunities for the international students to pray for good fortune in the Chinese New Year.