Hundreds of students from Chicago Public Schools (CPS) and their parents gathered at Whitney Young Magnet High School in Chicago Saturday to have a taste of traditional Chinese culture at the annual Chinese Cultural Festival.
Along the hallway of Whitney Young, students and their families learned Chinese calligraphy, paper-cutting, kite-making and Wei Qi, and tried to use chopsticks at more than 20 exhibitors that presented Chinese culture-related activities.
Jiangsu Provincial Performing Arts Troupe from China presented a 90-minute performance in the auditorium of the school. Two men propped up a lion costume and presented to the audience Chinese traditional lion dance, they jumped up and down and did some acrobatics on two benches under the lion costume, drawing waves of applauses.
Chinese artists also performed traditional Chinese folk dance, songs, and Chinese acrobatics.
This is the fourth year for the Confucius Institute in Chicago (CIC) and the CPS to host the event.
"Our Chinese Cultural Festival in the past three years was a great success, with more than 2,000 attendees from CPS and the general public," said Jane Lu, Director of CIC. "We want to share the fun and celebrate Chinese culture again this year."
Hong Lei, Chinese Consul General in Chicago, told Xinhua that Chinese Cultural Festival is a platform to promote Chinses culture as well as to review the achievements of Chinese Teaching in Chicago.
With China and the U.S. being two largest economies in the world, it's very important for the youngsters of the two countries to know each other, to understand each other's culture so "we can appreciate each other and be friends, and forge an even stronger relationship," he added.
Being the third largest school district in the U.S., CPS runs one of the most successful Chinese language programs in the country, with approximately 11,000 students learning Chinese in 42 schools from 58 teachers.
Emily Kurylak, a 14-year-old student at Whitney Young, has been studying Chinese for four years. She told Xinhua she wanted to learn Chinese so that she can talk with her mom and grandparents in their native language. "It's getting hard sometimes, but once you get over the boundary it's easier," said Kurylak.
"As a Chinese language teacher, I'm here not only to teach them language itself, but also help younger generation to know more about Chinese culture and traditional Chinese education philosophy," said Lusha Yin, who has been teaching Chinese at Whitney Young for 12 years.