New Year Tea Party | A New Start at the Decennial of YCA

Yenching Academy threw a New Year tea party on February 2, coinciding with the off-year day in north China, at the YCA Scholar’s Shaoyuan dormitory. Adorned with traditional Chinese New Year decorations, such as intricate paper-cuts of “福” (happiness) and diverse shapes, the dormitory’s activity room provided a delightful setting for the celebration. Dean Dong Qiang, Associate Dean Fan Shiming, and other staff of the Academy joined our Scholars at the tea party to commemorate the Year of the Dragon.

Professor Fan enlightened the international students about off-year customs in China, including the tradition of offering sacrifices to the kitchen god. Dean Dong talked about festival customs in traditional Chinese culture, emphasizing the importance Chinese people hold to returning home for major festivals. He extended warm wishes to the students for an enjoyable winter holiday at the Academy. This tea party fostered engaging conversations among our Scholars, who shared their holiday, study, and travel plans.

Dean Dong demonstrated the intricate strokes of writing the complex Chinese character “龍” through calligraphy, introducing international students to various styles of traditional Chinese calligraphy like official, running, and regular scripts. Fascinated by this ancient art form, students eagerly requested Dean Dong to teach them how to write while some tried their hand at calligraphy. Also, our international students created impressive “Happy New Year” posters written in different languages, each imbued with heartfelt joy. What’s more, they expressed good wishes for the New Year through their works of spring scrolls adorned with phrases like “Have Good Luck and Realize Your Hopes”, “With the Beginning of a New Year”, and “May All Your Wish Come True”.

Our Scholars experienced the essence of Chinese calligraphy and conveyed their hopes for the Year of the Dragon through their calligraphic works. The tea party concluded with the game “Rolling Happiness”. As 2024 marks Yenching Academy’s tenth anniversary, Dean Dong wrote a pair of spring couplets for the occasion:

The Tiger may leap away, and the Dragon rises in a new year;

Melodious and fruitful, the 10-year-old YCA has a new start.

The tea party provided a delightful blend of cultural exchange, artistic expression, and festive spirit as YCA welcomed the auspicious Year of the Dragon.

YCA Scholars’ Words

Joyce Wambui Kiarie (Kenya, 2023 cohort): I had an authentic intercultural experience at the New Year tea party. We practised Chinese calligraphy, writing “福” (meaning ‘fortune’ or ‘good luck’) and learned about the Chinese New Year customs. Coming from different cultural backgrounds, celebrating the Chinese New Year together helped us better understand each other.

Xu Zhe (China, 2023 cohort): The tea party was held on the off-year day, coinciding with the festive ambience of the Chinese New Year. The teachers’ New Year toast filled us with joy, and we relished the opportunity to write Chinese calligraphy to welcome the New Year. As a Chinese student, I take pride in our rich traditional Chinese culture. Also, we were deeply touched by the Academy’s thoughtful gesture of organizing this event.

Sama Aziz (USA, 2023 cohort): The tea party was warm and cordial. It was a delightful gathering of fellow students and teachers, where we immersed ourselves in celebrating the Chinese New Year and learning about Chinese traditions. We shared our good wishes for the Year of the Dragon and tried Chinese calligraphy in different scripts. I enjoyed the experience! It was remarkable to have a good time and enjoy traditional Chinese culture with my outstanding fellow students.

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