Nelson families gathered keenly for the third NZCFS Chinese Culture holiday programme, held on 13th and 14th July 2015 at Nelson and Marlborough Institute of Technology (NMIT). Thirty-seven children came in from the cold to a warm welcome from Gina (Qianlan), her fellow Confucius Institute Mandarin Learning Assistants and volunteers from the Nelson Branch of the New Zealand China Friendship Society. The children were inspired for two fascinating days, working in teams of ‘dragons’, ‘horses’ and ‘tigers’ to enjoy classes and games in Mandarin, calligraphy, paper crafts, brush painting and tai chi.
There were cooking demonstrations of stir-fried rice and soup and the children enjoyed Chinese teas throughout. Mark Soper gave a presentation on Chinese food philosophy and the children made dumplings to enjoy with their families at the end of the first day.
Finally, the results of their work in calligraphy, brush-painting and paper crafts found their way into their beautifully-made lanterns and Gail Collingwood presented a certificate to each child. The children enjoyed their time and gave the teachers very warm farewells. The programme successfully reached its goal of increasing interest in Mandarin and Chinese culture in Nelson.
Initially called “Chinese Culture Camps”, the events were an initiative of the NZCFS Nelson Branch executive committee. Members planned and organised the programmes in January and July 2014 and in July this year. Both 2014 camps had the invaluable help of Rebecca Wu, a qualified Mandarin teacher who lives and teaches in Nelson. Rebecca taught both 2014 camps, aided by NZCFS Nelson Branch committee members and other volunteers, and members may have heard her playing her guzheng at the recent 2015 NZCFS Conference. The NZCFS Nelson Branch was very fortunate this year to have the support of the Confucius Institute, through the seven Mandarin Learning Assistants who are working in various parts of New Zealand. Gina (Qianlan Zhou) is the MLA who currently teaches many Nelson school children, and she tirelessly worked with the project team to plan the event, then coordinated the activities of the two-day programme. She also taught with her colleagues who had come to Nelson especially for the event, assisted by NZCFS Nelson Branch volunteers. The programmes have been variously funded by registration fees, NZCFS Nelson Branch general funds, Appo Hocton book sales (the latter supported by a 2013 Simon Deng Li Fund Project), home hosting of teachers by members and private gifts. The Confucius Institute also supplied many of the teachers’ materials this year. The July 2015 event was extremely well-attended and registrations exceeded targets. Each of the camps has been successful in broadening awareness of Mandarin and Chinese culture in Nelson and some children have attended all three of the programmes.
Jeanette Jones (NZCFS Nelson Branch – Executive Committee Member)