Chinese course enrolment and call for volunteers

With the approaching of the new semester we are pleased to announce that the Language Centre course enrolment starts at 00:30 on Thursday 1st September. We offer over 80 classes in 14 different languages, including Chinese, that have both online and in person teaching. All classes will commence week beginning Monday 10 Oct 2022.

Online registration will be closed on Thursday 6 Oct and we welcome all to make an early registration as courses are extremely popular and fill up quickly.

Class schedule and registration links are accessible via Language Centre website.

Chinese language courses are offered from level 1 to level 5.

Call for volunteers

We are looking for talented students and staff members to volunteer for our Chinese language and cultural events at Queen’s. It could be in the form of a variety of cultural performances, or language/culture-related topics and skills, and is open to both Chinese-speaking and non-Chinese speaking volunteers.

We look forward to working with you in our future events.

Read the Chinese version here.

International Museum Day

Happy International Museum Day! 国际博物馆日快乐 (Guójì Bówùguǎn Rì kuàilè)!

Falling on 18th May since 1977, the International Museum Day has been a unique occasion for the global communities of museum goers and professionals to celebrate. This year’s theme of celebration is ‘The Power of Museums’.

The objective of International Museum Day (IMD) is to raise awareness about the fact that, “Museums are an important means of cultural exchange, enrichment of cultures and development of mutual understanding, cooperation and peace among peoples.”

International Council Of Museums

What does it mean by ‘The Power of Museums’ to you? How would it be possible that we, as visitors, can be empowered by museums? Today, we are delighted to invite WANG Xi (王曦), who specialises in museum with technologies for enhancing accessibility and just passed her PhD viva successfully, to explain her understanding of empowering visitors of special need through enhancing technological design in her project for the Titanic Museum (泰坦尼克博物馆 Tàitǎnníkè Bówùguǎn).

WANG Xi has been working at Queen’s University Belfast as a Marie-Curie Early Stage Researcher since 2018 and completed her PhD in Translation Studies at the School of Arts, English and Languages in May 2022. Her research interests are in museum accessibility. She currently works with world leading tourist attraction Titanic Belfast and RNIB to investigate novel access options that employ new technologies to improve accessibility and visitor experience for blind and partially sighted visitors.

Research project: Investigating Technologies to Enrich Museum Audio Description for Enhancing Accessibility

Museums are typically dominated by visual experiences. This means that people who are blind or partially sighted (BPS) tend to be excluded from several aspects of the visitor experience, including emotional engagement. The purpose of this practice-led research project was to explore ways in which smart software-enabled technologies could be used to enrich audio description (AD) and to enhance accessibility and visitor experience for BPS visitors. Working with Titanic Belfast and RNIB NI, I pioneered three approaches that combine a commitment to low-cost accessibility solutions and emotionally engaged visitor experience.

Titanic Museum, Belfast | Image@XiWang

This project first presented a study of BPS visitor experience in Titanic Belfast, and applied for the first time existing models of visitor experience in the context of accessibility.

Visitors touching the carpets | Image@XiWang

Next, based on the feedback from this study, I developed and evaluated a new approach to accessibility which used a multisensory smart map to present a journey-based story of Titanic’s maiden voyage. The smart map used readily available materials and affordable technologies, such as Raspberry-Pi. It also used software-controlled multi-function buttons to enable BPS users to autonomously select the desired AD and level of detail.

Touching A Smart Map | Image@XiWang

Finally, I proposed a major extension to the standard passive audio descriptive device by developing an interactive voice-driven museum audio descriptive guide for Titanic Belfast (TBot), with built-in navigation instructions and a free format Question and Answer facility. This TBot uses text-to-speech technology to generate AD from a textual knowledge base, speech recognition for input, to voice-activate the device; and a design platform that easily enables museum staff to produce, update and customise the chatbot.

Thanks to the funding from the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Doctoral Training Programme, I was able to run the 4-year-long project to investigate, develop and test innovative access options for BPS visitors, using new technologies within diverse museum environments. It has contributed several methods to enrich AD for enhancing museum accessibility and visitor experience for BPS visitors both theoretically and practically.

Author: WANG Xi
Editor: Martin Duffy

Continue reading

Mausoleum of the First Qin Emperor

Our previous article, My Journey to Henan Museum written by Yang LIANG, has been invitingly responded with a new but related article contributed by a current MA in Irish Studies postgraduate at QUB, Martin Duffy, who, with great interest, shared his experience and perspective of visiting the Mausoleum of the First Qin Emperor and the Terracotta Warriors in his early years when visiting Xi’an, China.

[The author happily acknowledges the copyright of all videos and pictures included in this article which are reproduced under fair use policy for educational purposes only.]

This is undoubtedly one of the “must see” sights of China. Tickets can be obtained by web, agent or at the admissions desk, and there are a variety of discounts. The Great Wall of China was augmented by the emperor to protect the newly founded Qin dynasty (221–206 BC.). In many ways this is Emperor Qin’s greatest legacy. However, the Emperor’s personal mausoleum and world-famous Terracotta Warriors are treasures to rival even the Great Wall.

Martin duffy

Continue reading

My journey to Henan Museum

What can you do on a rainy and wet winter day? Perhaps visiting a museum for an exhibition or event will be a good choice. In this post, we invite Yang LIANG (梁阳), a Queen’s graduate in TESOL from School of Social Science, Education and Social Work to share with you her recent experience of visiting Henan Museum (河南博物院 Hénán Bówùyuàn).

About Henan Museum

Henan Museum, built in 1927, is one of the oldest and largest museums in China. Its site changed for several times and finally lies at Nongye Road, Jinshui District, Zhengzhou, Henan. It is a history and art museum with a collection of more than 130,000 pieces of cultural relics through the ages.

China Highlights
The Homepage of Henan Museum (English version). The light spot on the map of China shows you where Henan Province locates while the shape on the left displays the provincial geographical range.

After some ten years, I went to visit Henan Museum again. This time, I went there mainly for a show on ancient Chinese music performance, as well as re-visiting the relics.

Yang Liang

The ticket is free, but one needs to book it, either online or on site. I did it via a mobile app for a slot of admission. Then I took a bus there, as the public transport system is very convenient nowadays and there is a bus station nearby.

The collection of photos show what the main entrance looks like and the main exhibition halls from different angles.

This is what it looks like inside of the museum with some of the exhibits. For a full range of exhibition, you can return to the Museum’s website above.

As a layperson of architecture and archaeology, I’m not going to focus on these constructions and relics. However, I’d like to share with you what I felt about this visit from my personal experience of watching the show performance and some other observation.

I watched the music show before walking to the exhibition halls, as I was more interested in the new forms and functions museum nowadays promote – not only for educational purposes, but also to entertain visitors of all walks of life. I was totally impressed by the quality of ancient music performance, fully immersed in the show and the marvelous acoustic effects which allowed me to travel back to thousands of years ago. Here are a few clips of performances that I recorded:

Nowadays, more and more young people enjoy visiting museums, attending both exhibitions and relevant events like talks and shows which encourage more dynamics and interactive engagement, in contrast to the formulaic stereotypes that visitors just took photos around in museums and left without much understanding and appreciation of such exhibitions. I recall that decades ago I went there seeing the same kinds of lifeless objects without any interest in observing, discovering, and imagining how and why they were relevant to me in history and have impacted on my life, let alone a good level of appreciation. If one has no good knowledge about these exhibits, they would easily feel so bored and want to escape.

This time, when I got it in hand, I found the idea of blind boxes, or mystery boxes, really appealing as I never could have guessed what kind of things were inside until I opened it with a ‘Wow’.

(The added line of characters read ‘拆盲盒的快乐 ~’, meaning the happiness (快乐 kuàikè) of opening (拆 chāi) the blind box (盲盒 mánghé). The photo shows that there is a set of samples of palace maid band designed by Henan Museum.)

I also came across two boys who were giving a video call to their mum, making a live broadcast while walking around. They told their mum what they saw and how they were impressed, and their mum sounded really excited over the phone.

I would also like to attribute this wonderful experience to the advance of modern technology which makes these old objects alive. For example, the amazing lighting and acoustic effect made me feel as if I stood in a traditional Chinese ink painting, exploring a wonderland when I saw many white cranes fly in the sky and heard the stream flowing pleasantly. Wow! Who wouldn’t enjoy this kind of visiting experience?

Editor: Liang WANG
Proofreader: Owen Marles

Continue reading

An edible ‘landmark’ of Wuhan

Whilst it rained with ice balls in Northern Ireland only a few days ago, people in China have already turned to ice-creams for the cool taste. More popular than the tastes are perhaps the variety of shapes of ice-creams that resemble those local features and places of interest. Here’s what Xuewei YANG (杨雪薇), a QUB alumnus, brings to us.

Continue reading