Community Life: a Cross-Cultural Dialogue on July 25

One of the objectives of UD-NSLIY is to enable student participants to get to know about contemporary China in all its aspects, particularly the Chinese society on its grass-root level. On July 25 we organized a special event: Community Life: a Cross-Cultural Dialogue with prominent members of the Xiamen community and local high school students at the Binhai Neighborhood Committee Headquarters. The Binhai Neighborhood Committee is just one of many Neighborhood Committees in the greater Xiamen area that function as the level of government closest to the people, much like city councils or home owners associations in the U.S. On our arrival we were greeted by a cadre of smiling Chinese high schoolers all holding signs welcoming us to their neighborhood. We were then ushered into the main lobby, where a team of older community members were waiting to perform a traditional waist drum dance on our behalf. Following their performance, we listened to a presentation given by various representatives of the Binhai Neighborhood Committee that explained the function of local government in China. Our hosts in Binhai were gracious enough to set up a number of cultural stations at their community center to give us a lesson in traditional Chinese culture. At these various stations, we learned how to prepare porcupine shaped red-bean buns (in Chinese红豆沙包子), how to write the character 福 (Fu, meaning Fortune) in stylized calligraphy, and how to do intriguingly artistic papercutting. After we finished going through the stations, we then watched a series of culturally-oriented performances by members of the Binhai community and UD NSLIY participants. The community members treated us to musical compositions on the Er Hu (a two-stringed Chinese version of the fiddle) and the Gourd Flute. In addition to his wonderful piano solo (by Tyler), our own UD NSLIY students also made us proud with Xinjiang dance and folk singing. To conclude our visit to the Binhai Neighborhood Association Headquarters, UD NSLIY students and local peers exchanged gifts and best wishes. Our visit to the Binhai was spectacular!