Winter Holiday: Warmth of the Chinese New Year and Passion for Beijing 2022

The new semester arrived on the heels of the lingering excitement and happy memories of the Chinese New Year. Our Yenching Scholars had a wonderful winter holiday together. They wrote spring scrolls, guessed lantern riddles, and shared their favorite dishes to celebrate the Chinese New Year. And they enjoyed winter sports, with some of them attending and volunteering in different activities during the Beijing Winter Olympic Games 2022.

A New Spring Scented with Ink and Tea

On January 24, Professor Dong Qing, Dean of Yenching Academy, YCA Associate Dean Fan Shiming, and teachers from the Student Affairs Office visited the Yenching Scholars’ dormitory, Shaoyuan 6, extending best wishes for the Chinese New Year to students spending their winter holiday on campus.

Professor Dong encouraged the students to make the most of the winter holiday by exploring more places and landscapes in Beijing and the campus to appreciate PKU’s exquisiteness in different seasons. For instance, a niche area like the Langrun Garden, with its plants and buildings, tells about the history of the place that is now PKU campus.

Dean Dong also talked about traditional Chinese culture in theory and practice, drawing on the significance of spring scrolls. In ancient China, spring scrolls were composed similarly to how poems were fashioned. Antithesis and tonal patterns are of equal importance in a pair of scrolls. He cited a sentence from a poem by Tang poet Jia Dao which read, “Low in the mist among withered grass crouches the tiger; High on the pine-top in the moonlight stands the vulture.” The English version tied the end rhyme of “tiger” and “vulture”, echoing the style in the original Chinese text containing the characters “hu” and “diao”. Similarly, Professor Dong wrote down his good wishes for the new year, “Off they go, demons and evils, when spring approaches; Away they move pandemic and virus when the new year begins.

With encouragement and guidance on Chinese calligraphy from the Dean, our Scholars set to write their spring scrolls and character of happiness. He made a pair of spring scrolls on Zhao Qing’s name, “The river vanishes from sight in the spring sunshine; The alley runs into endless-ness in the fine rain.” Together, our teachers and students welcomed the Year of Tiger with a celebration scented with ink and tea.

An On-Cloud Lantern Festival

The Lantern Festival of the Renyin Year of Tiger fell on February 15. Our Yenching Scholars had an online celebration organized by the YCA Youth League Branch Committee. Yu Haocheng, a Chinese student from the 2021 Cohort, hosted the event.

Yu opened the event with a discussion about the history and customs of the Lantern Festival. Then, some Chinese students from the 2021 Cohort delivered a brilliant performance: Zhao Qing played a piano solo, A Maiden’s Prayer; Su Shi, Wan Yuyao, Wang Yufei, Xiao Yingtong, Zhang Jiali, and Zhang Jiayu sang their best wishes for the students and the New Year; and Qiu Zheqian told her Lantern Festival story.

There was so much excitement in the air as our Scholars brainstormed to guess several Lantern Festival riddles in Chinese and English.

Foodies’ Chinese New Year

Our Scholars, scattered around the world, dived into the Chinese New Year in an online Food Show, “Foodies’ Chinese New Year”, organized by our YCA counselors and American students Casey Wang and Haider Nazir from the 2020 Cohort.

The YCA counselors from the 2019 cohorts had established a group chat called “Dishes of YCA”, which attracted about 100 students from the sixth and seventh cohorts. Traditionally, the Chinese New Year celebration starts from the Minor New Year on the twenty-third day of the 12th lunar month (which fell on January 25 this year) and ends on the Lantern Festival on the fifteenth day of the first lunar month (which fell on February 15 this year). Over the period, our Scholars shared photos of dishes - like the popular dumplings and fish-shaped rice cakes symbolizing happiness – they and their families prepared for the Chinese New Year to our Food Show. Also, Scholars had a sumptuous feast on New Year’s Eve and sweet snacks like donuts, expressing their best wishes for the future.

Graceful Figures in the Winter Sports Event

On January 8, Peking University held its first-ever PKU Winter Sports Game and PKU Cup Skiing Race at Vanke Shijinglong Ski Resort. The GSU of Yenching Academy organized the competition for our Scholars in line with the call of “engaging 300 million in winter sports in China”. Liu Yishu and Feng Huidi from the 2021 Cohort ranked fourth in Women’s Snowboard–Fun Course (May Fourth [Students’] Group) and fourth in Women’s Club Biathlon–Fun Course (May Fourth [Students’] Group), respectively. Yu Haochen, Zhao Qing, and Zhao Yanan deliver impressive performances in Club Biathlon, too.

The students bravely dashed forward on the snow in the spirit of sportsmanship, enjoying the winter sports and shared laughter. In light of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics and Paralympic Games, we were together for a shared future.

Be Part and Parcel of Beijing 2022

The 24th Winter Olympic Games were held in Beijing on February 4–20. Some Yenching Scholars participated in this event.

Luo Hanyi from the 2020 Cohort worked as a volunteer with the ice hockey teams during the Games, responsible for arrangements for the teams in the National Indoor Stadium. Hanyi is a winter sports fan and skater. She was a member of the PKU Ice Hockey Team. Hanyi majored in French language in her undergraduate, and she is proficient in English and possesses effective communication skills. As a volunteer, she was the bridge between the Organizing Committee and the national teams. When asked how she perceived her role, she stated, “I think the foreign teams will see in my work what China is. In other words, what I do may influence the image of China in the eyes of other countries. I hope I can accomplish my work and impress the participating teams with a positive image of China and PKU students.”

Dickson David Agbaji was a Yenching Scholar from the 2019 Cohort, and he is now a doctoral student at the PKU Graduate School of Education. Dickson and 14 other PKU students participated in the “Tribute to the People” performance at the Opening Ceremony. Following his successful selection by Zhang Yimou’s team from a vast pool of PKU students, Dickson and his colleagues undertook several training sessions to prepare them for the main event. They took pains to adjust the step, velocity, and pace and finally gave a brilliant show to the world. Dickson cherished his experience and memory of Beijing 2022 and felt grateful to Peking University for the opportunity.

American students Sarah Brooker and Brook Jiang from our 2021 Cohort were “lucky birds” who sat in the audience of the Bird’s Nest Stadium at the Opening Ceremony. Sarah was excited and, as a History student, felt touched by the twenty-four solar terms countdown. “The countdown was extraordinary and stopped at the Beginning of Spring. It echoed the scene of farming and the children’s performance with snowflakes. It showed us a vision of hope and something really promising. I felt in the performances solidarity and expectation on future and younger generations,” Sarah explained.

Brook thought it a once-in-life experience to watch the Opening Ceremony at the Bird’s Nest. “I felt fraternity and spirit of sports in the Olympics. I was moved by the young performers and their performance, by their vitality. When I saw my fellow PKU students and other young people walk in unison, I felt all of a sudden something recovering from a thunderstorm. I do believe together we can surmount difficulties caused by the pandemic and have a new life.”

Spring is approaching in the sound of melting snow. We are excited as we welcome back everyone to a new semester. Let’s be together for a brighter future!

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