The Berkeley High School Mandarin program rang in the Year of the Rooster in style with a school-wide Chinese New Year fair. The fair included various stands featuring different aspects of Chinese culture and the Mandarin program here at Berkeley High.
Among the more notable stations was the calligraphy station that allowed students to make their own characters with ink and brushes by following templates for various words.
Another fun station was the chopstick relay, which challenged participants to pick up objects using chopsticks, with the most challenging item being the wet ping pong ball. This was a challenge that could not be overcome with only sub-par chopstick skills.
There were also stands for paper cutting, Chinese knot work, tea-tasting, Chinese character matching, Chinese clothing, and of course, food.
Jadyn Lee, a junior at BHS, has been in the mandarin program since freshman year. She believes the fair was a good way to learn about this rarely taught culture. “The purpose of the fair was to introduce people to aspects of Chinese culture and to share a celebration of the new year that’s really special and unique to Chinese culture,” she said.
Lee said the response from students was nothing but positive, “I liked how open and into it people seemed to be,” she says, “it was awesome to see other people appreciating the celebration of different cultures.”
Anna Bettendorf, a sophomore who attended the fair, agreed with Lee, and said, “It was excellent to see everyone come together while learning about Chinese culture.”
The atmosphere of the fair was indeed one of curiosity, with most students challenging themselves to learn about the culture with enthusiasm, most notably not armed with a mandatory worksheet some teachers use for incentive. Other students mingled around enjoying the tea station.
But the fair was not only a learning experience for the guests, it was also a space to learn for those running the event. According to Leila Kim, who ran the knot-tying station, “It was nice to share something I’ve really come to connect with taking Mandarin,” she said, “I learned a new skill so I could teach it.”
As guests left they were given a red envelope called a hongbao, containing a candy and a slip encouraging people to sign up for the Mandarin program run by Ms. Chen.
Through gestures like this, the fair garnered attention for the Mandarin program here at Berkeley High School and helped raise the profile of the class school-wide. In the next year, interest in the program will hopefully rise as a result of the engaging event.
Happy Year of the Rooster!