Albany schools unite for Chinese cultural festival

With help from an Asia New Zealand Foundation Experience Asia grant, Albany Junior High School and Albany Primary School held a day of activities to celebrate Chinese culture. We talk to teacher Susanna Guo about why they held the festival and how it went.
A performer with a mask on doing a face-changing routine

A performer with a mask on doing a face-changing routine

What are some of the things the students did for the festival?

At a whole school assembly, students and teachers from both schools did performances, including fan dance, kungfu, a demonstration of traditional Chinese musical instrument the Guzheng, Chinese Hip Pop and singing. Northcote Intermediate school students performed a lion dance as well, which was very popular with the students.

After the school assembly, Chinese culture experts from our community and Confucius Institute held eight activity stalls, including kungfu, Diablo, tea ceremony, calligraphy, chopstick games, mooncake-making, paper cutting and lion dance. Year 6 to Year 8 classes had a rotation to try these activities.

We also had another day on which we held a Chinese food market, which was one part of  the Chinese Culture Festival.

What did the students think about the activities?

They were so excited and fully engaged in the assembly and culture activity stalls. My Year 10 Mandarin students and culture leaders also had this opportunity to practice their leadership skills, because it is a student–centred and student–directed festival.

 What activity do you think the students enjoyed the most?

The lion dance was definitely the highlight of the day.

Students from Albany Junior High School Watching a Chinese Lion Dance

A highlight of the day was the Lion Dance

 Why did the school decide to hold the Chinese Culture Festival?

We have held Chinese Language Week events for three years. In 2019, we had a chance to collaborate with Albany Primary School to hold a Chinese Culture Festival as part of the New Zealand Chinese Language Week, which seemed like a great opportunity.

 Why do you think it is important for students to learn about another culture?

It meets the need of the new immigration trend in the Albany community and is very important to teach our kids Chinese cultural awareness. The more understanding of the culture, the less conflict. The more awareness, the more appreciation and understanding.

Students looking at a display about Chinese Calligraphy

Students held a workshop to introduce calligraphy to their classmates

 Did people from the school community get involved in the event?

Yes. Parents supported all the performers. One student's parents came to the assembly to help their son with his opera mask-changing costumes and helped arrange the music for his performance. Experts from our community and Confucius Institute from Auckland University helped to organise the culture activity stalls and parents helped out with this and the Chinese Food Sale Market Day, too.

 Some quotes from students

"I most liked being included in the kung fu stall because it helped me understand it a little more and I gained a few moves from it."

"I learned that there are many Chinese cultural activities which are really fun to do and I think its something that people would actually like to continue."

"I liked teaching and serving the younger kids tea because they liked to drink it and they asked alot of questions."

"I believe they (the other students) enjoyed it because it was kung fu. Who doesn't like kung fu?"