New Zealand Review Editorial: Today is the first day of this year’s New Zealand Chinese Language Week (NZCLW). I used to be very excited to see NZCLW is coming, so we could celebrate our Chinese culture and showcase great cultural events to other communities. But I do not have the same feeling anymore.
I am grateful for all the people who participate in NZCLW and bring many great events. However, I do not feel these events have engaged with Chinese communities itself and most events are not that exciting. It looks like a ritual that you cannot avoid, so just bring out something. Compared to Māori Language Week, the NZCLW is in such a low profile that most people won’t even realize it exists.
As a Chinese person who loves his culture, I am writing this article to give NZCLW some suggestions on the events. Hopefully, we will see more engaging and exciting events in the near future.
C-pop is an abbreviation for Chinese popular music, a loosely defined musical genre by artists originating from mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan（the Greater China region). This also includes countries where Chinese languages are used by parts of the population, such as Singapore and Malaysia. (from Wikipedia).
C-pop is such a great way to bring Chinese and other communities together. Whether you are born after the 1980s, 1990s, or 2000s, C-pop has been encouraged and touched many Chinese people. The 1980s and 1990s are the golden eras of C-pop. There are many pop culture events we can utilize to showcase Chinese culture.
When we start learning English, our English Teacher told us to listen to English songs. So we can bring more popular C-pop to NZCLW events. Or let’s have a big C-pop Karaoke outside.
We can even design some C-pop TV shows like they do in Taiwan.
2. Mandarin, Cantonese, and more.
The Chinese language is not equal to mandarin. Every province, city, and town has their own language or dialect. Overseas Chinese has their own dialect too. The great thing is that we can easily understand each other’s language or dialect. So why not celebrate all those languages or dialects at the same time? If you speak other people’s dialects, they feel instantly closer to you.
We have an old saying “shi li bu tong yin (十里不同音)”， which means even though we are 10 miles away, we have a different dialect. This is a reality in the Chinese language. In old times, mountains or geological blocked people from communicating with each other, and those communities will have slight differences in accents. So why not try to learn some Chinese dialects and present the beautiful local culture of people who speak these dialects?
I know people think Mandarin is hard to learn, so why learn other dialects? Mandarin is like London English, why can you not learn to speak Welsh? See the blew International Students have fun speaking different dialects.
3. Authentic Chinese food, not just dumplings.
Food is a gateway to entering language learning and making friends. I know dumplings are the most recognizable Chinese food. However, there have so many types of Chinese food that we can share with other communities. Chinese regional cuisines are the many different cuisines found in different provinces and prefectures of China as well as from larger overseas Chinese communities.
A number of different styles contribute to Chinese cuisine, but perhaps the best known and most influential are Guangdong cuisine, Shandong cuisine, Huaiyang cuisine and Sichuan cuisine. These styles are distinctive from one another due to factors such as availability of resources, climate, geography, history, cooking techniques and lifestyle. Jiangsu cuisine favours cooking techniques such as braising and stewing, while Sichuan cuisine employs baking, just to name a few.
So why not show these regional cuisines? This food will make the events more popular and exciting. Let’s build a Chinese restaurant map in the country to dedicate to different Chinese regional cuisines. Let’s have a hot pot or dry pot together.
4. Chinese bakery and snacks.
China has a long history of making delicate snacks. It is not easy to find many traditional Chinese bakeries in New Zealand. But I know there have many Chinese families here who can bake good Chinese snacks. Why not engage with local Chinese communities to bring potluck baking events?
5. Chinese Tea Ceremony.
Tea is originally from China and China has a long history of making and drinking tea. Tea is also one of the Kiwi’s favourite drinks. NZCLW is a great opportunity to showcase Chinese tea ceremonies and culture. The tea ceremony is also related to tea sets, arts, performances and many other cultural elements.
6. Chinese film and TV dubbing.
It is fun to Netflixing Chinese films and TV series. Let’s make it even better. We can host some events for dubbing Chinese film and TV series, so there will be more people to enjoy these good productions. Or let’s cooperate with TVNZ to have a Chinese film or TV week. The more people watch, the merrier.
7. Chinese lantern shows.
Light shows can always attract traffics. The lantern festival is one of the successful events. However, the lantern festival is almost at the end of summer. It would be better to have one of these in the middle of spring or summertime. Wellington recently lit up the night for cherry blossom viewers, generating lots of attention. Why cannot we have a Chinese lantern shown under the cherry blossom? I think lots of people from Asian communities will enjoy it.
9. Chinese wine and guess a riddle.
Do you know that China does not only have wine made from grapes or rice? It also has wine made from bayberry, kiwi fruits, Osmanthus, plums, and so on. I think it would be a good idea to collaborate with local Chinese wine stores to showcase this part of the culture. To make it even more exciting, let’s combine it with riddle-guess games.
10. Traditional musical instruments and costume party.
Han is not the only ethnic group in China, there have 56 ethnic groups in China. Each ethnic group has their own traditional costume. And in the long history of China, those costume has been changing as time passes. So let’s have a costume party to celebrate the variety of Chinese costumes. This would be fun. And also be great if can have a concert to play traditional musical instruments.
I think I may expect too much. But language is about enjoying the culture and having fun. Not just start with boring things which will push language learners away.
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