Volunteering for wellbeing

Starting from October 30th on, the whole country has officially entered its wintertime. Have you started to feel depression and loneliness because of the early darkness, wet weather and fast-approaching assignment deadlines? Have you ever wondered how long this awful wintertime will actually last before you can regain your peace of mind?

We are pleased to welcome Sun Xingge (孙邢格), MSc candidate in Advanced Professional and Clinical Practice from School of Nursing and Midwifery, to share her fresh experience of joining the Student Union’s (学生会 xuéshēnghuì) Volunteering (志愿行动 zhìyuàn xíngdòng) and Wellbeing (安康 ānkāng) Fair hosted on Wednesday 2nd November.

It’s been amazing that Queen’s Student Union hosted this Volunteering and Wellbeing Fair at this time of the year as it sets a goal to make us aware of the importance of taking care of ourselves and others. From 12pm to 4pm at the Mandela Hall, One Elmwood, I took part in wellbeing activities like dog petting, crafting, DJ taster session, yoga and more, which was lots of fun and a fantastic feel-good experience.

But it’s about more than just having fun. As a Nursing student I’m keen to meet a range of not-for-profit organisations (非盈利组织 fēi yínglì zǔzhī) to find out about the opportunities available to me, to meet new friends, to discover new interests, to build my confidence, all through participating in volunteering. I believe that this could help me gain invaluable experience for my life and my future career. For example, I had a chance to join the simulation game of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR, 心肺复苏 xīnfèi fùsū), which has updated me with the key steps of undertaking CPR.

Flowerpot design

Among the many activities, I particularly enjoyed the flowerpot designing activity, as I had the luxury of choosing from loads of flowers to design my own flowerpot, which really stimulated my imagination and increased my sense of achievement. When I was focusing on flowerpot designing, I actually tended to forget all my worries and felt much relaxed. I chose orange as the theme color and picked up sunflowers, roses, and daisies, which represent sunshine and hope. After finishing making the pot, I brought my product home and presented it to my friend as a little surprise (小惊喜 xiǎo jīngxǐ). She was so grateful (感激 gǎnjī; 领情 lǐng qíng) and loved my gift. See, my joy from making this flowerpot and my friend’s joy of receiving my little gift has already awarded me double happiness (双倍快乐 shuāngbèi kuàilè) during the day.

Free food and healthy diet

In addition to flowerpot designing, I also appreciated being advised to follow a healthy diet (健康饮食 jiànkāng yǐnshí), which turns out to be a crucial thing for us all as it is one of the main ways to improve our physical and mental health. I was impressed by the provision with free (免费 miǎnfèi) hot lunch boxes (a selection between chicken and vegan curry) and a great variety of free healthy snacks at the fair – rice cakes, chickpeas, corn, and nuts, to name a few. The hot lunch box meant a lot to me because I’m so used to eating hot meal (热食 rèshí) when I was in China, especially since it made me feel warm during this cold winter, being distant from my home.

More student and wellbeing events

Contributor: SUN Xingge
Editors: Lauren McShane and WANG Liang

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.

When The Teachers’ Day Meets Mid-Autumn Festival

Following the passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, we think that it is appropriate and respectful to postpone our Mid-Autumn Festival celebration event. The event will be rescheduled and a further notice will be made soon.

The Mid-Autumn Festival is a great occasion for family reunion in the Chinese culture, and we hope that you will join us in sending our condolences to the Royal Family on the loss of their most important family member.

Photo: The Lanyon Building with QUB flag flying at half-mast | ©LiangWANG

You may click to read QUB tribute in English and in Chinese.

It is so special that this year the Mid-Autumn Festival falls on today, Saturday 10th Sept, which coincides with the Teachers’ Day in China. Although we will not be able to get together in person to celebrate this double-festival day, we would like to send our warmest wishes to all who share this culture from QUB and elsewhere.

We have seen our students finding their ways of making mooncakes by themselves with passion and creativity. In the following video clip contributed by Qi SHUAI, you may find it interesting to see how mooncakes can be made by using local materials while she feels being distant (and homesick) from their home.

“去年中秋节的时候我还在家里收拾行囊准备开始我的留学之旅,而现在我已经出国一年了,离开父母整整一年了。中国有句古话“每逢佳节倍思亲”,自从出国开始,每次在异国他乡过中国传统节日时候总是更加认真也更加去认真过节。虽然很想念家里的亲人朋友,但也因为种种原因没有办法把回国列入档期。中秋节算是在中国人心中重要程度仅此于春节的传统节日,因为中秋的节日核心就是在月亮下和家人团团圆圆。但中国还有一句古话“明月千里寄相思”,离开家的我只能望月怀远,将寄明月,把想念化为一句句祝福和一块块月饼。”

(Translation: Last Mid-Autumn Festival I was still packing up at home for my overseas study and now it has been a year since I left my parents. As the Chinese saying goes, one would double-miss their family when it comes to festivals for reunion, I am always keen to celebrate the traditional Chinese festivals when I travel away from home. Once again, now I miss my family and friends so much, although I don’t know a date to return yet. The Mid-Autumn Festival is the second most important event after the Spring Festival to Chinese families, as the full and bright moon in autumn symbolises a great occasion for family reunion. However, as I’m at a distant place, I have to borrow another saying that one can only pass on thoughts to their beloved through sharing the full and bright moon. Hence, I look up and afar, praying that the Mid-Autumn moon will share my best wishes and my hand-made mooncakes to the people I love and care in China.)

We would also like to take this opportunity to send our best wishes to the faculties both in Queen’s and elsewhere for a very relaxing Chinese Teachers’ Day!

A photo of two frames with thank-you messages to teachers, a spider plant as decoration, taken in 2018 | ©LiangWANG

Well, then, did you know when the World Teachers’ Day is and if there are any special date for teachers in your culture? Please share with us in the comment box below.

For our Mid-Autumn Festival celebrations and Chinese Teachers’ Day posts in the past, you may wish to read the following entries:

Mid-Autumn Festival Celebrations

Happy September and happy Mid-Autumn Festival which arrives early, falling on Saturday 10th September this year. 中秋节快乐 (Zhōngqiūjié kuàilè)!

Following the successful rolling out of the iRise Social and Wellbeing Event – A Taste of Chinese Tea with Guzheng Music in July, we would like to invite you to join our Mid-Autumn Festival celebration with a cultural talk on its history and social impact, with a taste of mooncakes (赏月 shǎng yuè) and MIDI keyboard performance (赏乐 shǎng yuè) –

MIDI Keyboard with Roses
  • Organised by The Language Centre and BAME & International Staff Network, QUB
  • Presented by Dr Liang Wang, The Language Centre
  • Contributed by Kehan (可瀚), BSc candidate in Music and Audio Production, School of Arts, English and Languages

Date: Friday 23rd September 2022
Time: 15:30 – 17:00 
Venue: The Auditorium, McClay Library

Please note: Due to rescheduling we may have some limited spaces available. For colleagues who signed up for the event and still can attend, you don’t need to do it again. However, if you are no longer able to attend in-person, please email liang.wang[at]qub.ac.uk so that places can be made to others. Please register by 4.00pm on Thursday 22nd September.

Happy Summer with Yangzhi Ganlu

While in Northern Ireland we have embraced a cool autumn it remains scorching hot in most places in China, where having a bowl of chilled dessert soup sparks so much joy in a hot summer. This time we invite CHEN Jiangyue (陈江月), a graduate in MSc TESOL, to share with us a type of popular dessert soup called ‘Yangzhi Ganlu’.

As a girl raised in Guangdong province, which borders Hong Kong, my favourite dessert soup is Yangzhi Ganlu (杨枝甘露 Yángzhī Gānlù), a type of Hong Kong-style dessert soup that is often widely known as ‘Yangzhi Nectar’, or simply, ‘Mango Pomelo Sago’ in English.

Photo: CHEN Jiangyue

The dessert soup of the day

Rich in fruit, especially mango (芒果 mángguǒ) and pomelo (柚子 yòuzi), as the name suggests, it often contains grapefruit (葡萄柚 pútaoyòu), coconut (椰子 yēzi), strawberry (草莓 cǎoméi), and sago (西米露 xīmǐlù), served in coconut milk (椰奶 yēnǎi) and syrup (糖水 tángshuǐ, aka Tong Sui in Cantonese). Deliciously sweet and sour with a silky milk flavour, it will soon perk you up with the feeling of infinite freshness and happiness! While it is best served chilled, especially in summer, it is nevertheless a great drink for all seasons.

Whenever I feel like a summer treat, I will make it myself at home as it is easy to prepare, or buy it at local stores as they are so popular. It is also my top recommendation for my friends coming to visit Guangdong. Every time we meet at my place, I always take my friends out to taste Yangzhi Ganlu at some must-try restaurants or dessert soup stores.

What does the Chinese name mean exactly?

Yangzhi Ganlu is a contemporary syrup invented by the Lei Yuan Group, a Hong Kong-based business, in the 1980s, although its name is embedded with connotations of traditional Chinese mythology.

Yangzhi (杨枝 Yángzhī), literally meaning willow branches, refers to the holy branch held in the sacred porcelain vase of Guanyin Bodhisattva (观世音菩萨 Guānshìyīn púsà) in Chinese Buddhism, a figure synonymous with the pinnacle of mercy, compassion, and kindness. Ganlu (甘露 Gānlù) refers to the holy dew dropping from the willow branch, which is believed to have the power to bring people back to life or to make one feel refreshed.

Photo © nationsonline.org

Hence, the name was adopted to highlight its health benefits and its effectiveness at cooling people down in hot weather.

Taking a pioneer role in a competitive dessert industry, Yangzhi Ganlu has evolved into many different variations overtime and has won the heart of many people, both young and old, in greater China and elsewhere. It is believed that its success does not merely rely on the business itself, but also on the cultural associations of its name.

Author: CHEN Jiangyue
Editors:
Lauren McShane and WANG Liang

What other type of dessert or drinks have you ever entertained yourselves? Let us know your choices and the stories behind by leaving your comments in the box below. We look forward to reading your blog post in the near future.

Continue reading

World Baking Day

Various parts of the world choose different dates for World Baking Day, e.g., the two most common dates are the 15th or 17th of May. For baking lovers what matters the date is less relevant than the opportunity for baking lovers to please themselves and their family, friends and neighbours.

Today, we invite Xiuying DENG (also see Eggcellent Easter) to share with us her experience of baking a Basque cheesecake, which is a type of cheesecake with a strong burnished flavour. The Basque cheesecake is baked until the outside of the cake is charred. It is named after the region’s name, the Basque in Spain.

As a foodie with sweet tooth, I tried to learn to bake Basque cake quite a while ago. The first attempt was so successful and the entire process didn’t take much time. I really found it enjoyable and full of confidence for the next one.

– Xiuying deng

Well, here is the way of how to make a Basque cheesecake with only a few required ingredients. At a grocery store or supermarket, one can easily find and buy the following items:

  • granulated sugar (白砂糖 bái shā táng)
  • Greek style yogurt (希腊酸奶 Xīlà suānnǎi)
  • fresh whipping cream (新鲜淡奶油 xīnxiān dàn nǎiyóu)
  • cornflour (玉米淀粉 yùmǐ diànfěn)
  • cream cheese (奶油奶酪 nǎiyóu nǎilào)
  • eggs (蛋 dàn)
Image@XiuyingDENG

Required ingredients: cream cheese 250g, fresh whipping cream 150g, yogurt 200g, two eggs, sugar 55g and cornflour 10g.

When all these items are ready, just get started. The following is the process of making a Basque cheesecake. Let’s go –

Step 1: Add cream cheese, yogurt and two eggs in a bowl and stir them well.

Image@XiuyingDENG

Step 2: After stirring evenly, add some sugar and cornflour in the same bowl.

Image@XiuyingDENG

Step 3: Pour the mixed paste into the mold, and put it into the preheated oven (turn the oven to 180 degrees and bake for 20 minutes; then turn it up to 200 degrees, bake for another 10 minutes.)

Image@XiuyingDENG

Step 4: Cool the baked cake and put it in the fridge for 4 hours.

Image@XiuyingDENG

Step 5: Use your creative mind to decorate it.

Image@XiuyingDENG

The above is the process of making Basque cake. Finally, remember to take nice photos of the presentation so that you can have your cake and eat it. I hope you all can manage to create delicious cakes!

Author: Xiuying DENG, MA candidate in Marketing, Queen’s Management School
Editor: Martin Duffy, MA candidate in Irish Studies with a focus on Public History at the Institute of Irish Studies, Queen’s University Belfast.

Mooncake Festival

The Mooncake Festival (月饼节), officially known as Mid-Autumn Festival (中秋节) in China, has been widely used by people in some Asian countries.

Following last year’s celebration, we would like to welcome you again to join our online Mid-Autumn Festival culture programme which involves

  • A culture talk with quiz
  • Cultural performances
  • Making mooncakes (demo)
Festive greetings from the Language Centre with invitation

The event is jointly contributed by Queen’s Chinese staff, students and alumni. The event is scheduled between 1:00 and 2:00 pm on Tuesday 21st September – the Mid-Autumn Festival day. You are all very welcome to attend the session with the information and registration link below:

How to greet people on the day?

Normally people would greet each other by saying ‘Happy Mid-Autumn Festival’ 中秋节快乐 (Zhōngqiū jié kuàilè). However, in this special time of facing pandemic threat, we often wish people peaceful and healthy by adding 安康 (ānkāng) in addition to 快乐 (kuàilè), which becomes “中秋节快乐安康 (Zhōngqiū jié kuàilè ānkāng)”.

  • 中 (zhōng) – middle, centre
  • 秋 (qiū) – autumn
  • 中秋 (Zhōngqiū) – mid-Autumn
  • 节 (jié) – festival, day
  • 快乐 (kuàilè) – happy
  • 安康 (ānkāng) – peaceful and healthy

To learn more Chinese vocabulary and expressions in a structured way, you are welcome to attend one of our Chinese courses for non-specialist purposes. Click the link below to check for Mandarin Chinese course information.

Bubble tea time

In our ‘International Tea Day‘ post, we asked what type of tea you would like to drink and there were two replies:

Personally, I’m not a tea person, lol, I think I like yogurt and milk more. In China, the younger generations may take bubble tea as their first choice right now. It may be my favorite drink too if I don’t consider calories or my body shape too much.

– Yang Liang

I love milk tea~

– shiyu wu

So, what is bubble tea, then?

Bubble Tea is the name given to the wide variety of refreshing flavoured fruit teas and milk teas served ice cold or piping hot with chewy tapioca balls that you suck up through a big fat straw!

Bubbleology


A bubble tea made in Belfast, Image@LiangWang

In Chinese, it is widely known as 珍珠奶茶 (zhēnzhū nǎi chá). 珍珠 (zhēnzhū), originally meaning pearl, here refers to the pearl-shaped tapioca balls typically used in the recipe. 奶茶 (nǎi chá) means milk tea.

Today we’d like to invite Jie Rao (饶洁), one of our QUB alumni and fan of bubble/milk tea, to share her thoughts.

To be honest, I am one of the bubble girls as I believe drinking it will help me remove all the sorrows and worries, and make me feel relieved for the time being.


Jie Rao in front of a vending machine for drinks. Image@JieRao

“Tea?”

In Northern Ireland as well as elsewhere in the UK, when people entertain their friends with a cup of tea, they mean to serve tea with milk and sugar. While this custom differs to the thousand-year-long tradition of tea-serving in China, a new type of tea drink, called bubble tea, or milk tea, has become a fashion among the young Chinese.

People see it, get it, post a photo of it and others see it.

Instead of drinking tea at home or in a tea house, young people nowadays enjoy grabbing a milk tea while hanging out with their friends or just for refreshment. One can very often see bubble tea shops or cafes on streets, with long queues of young faces. It is also trendy that people would like to show their first cup of bubble tea through their social media, partly because of the convenience of sharing function and partly due to the showing-off human nature.

Green tea with cheese and rock salt, Image@JieRao

In fact, bubble tea or milk tea is tea-based drink, very different to the original tea drinking. It tastes milky sweet. Of course, you can choose the ice (冰 bīng) and sugar level (甜度 tián dù) according to your preference. The fundamental difference is that bubble tea has essential toppings to choose, like pearl-sized tapioca (木薯 mùshǔ), coconut jelly (椰果 yē guǒ), pudding (布丁 bùdīng), red bean (红豆 hóng dòu), taro (芋圆 yùyuán) and so on. Some variants include adding cheese and fruits, and other kinds of tea drinks even goes without using milk.

Just a few days ago, I went to a popular shop named 茶颜悦色 (chá yán yuè sè), a brand based in Changsha, Hunan Province, and I was kept waiting for almost an hour due to its long queue and time for preparation. However, it was really worth the wait if one would enjoy watching the onsite making.

茶颜悦色 adapts from a Chinese phrase 察言观色 (chá yán guān sè) meaning ‘to observe one’s words and countenance’. In this brand:

  • 茶 (chá, tea) has the same pronunciation as 察 (chá, to observe).
  • 颜 (yán) pronounces the same as 言 (yán, speech).
  • 悦 (yuè) means to please while 观 (guān) means to look, to observe.
  • 色 (), with the basic meaning as colour, has its connotation as facial expressions or countenance.

Image@维基小霸王, Wikimedia

The brand’s name carries the meaning that good tea drink makes one wearing a pleasant look.

Despite the popularity, people are warned against the sugar content of bubble tea and other ingredients like non-dairy creamer used in the drink that can cause potential health problem. I often order bubble tea with half sugar (半糖 bàn táng) or light sugar (微糖 wēi táng). How would you like your bubble tea prepared?

We look forward to hearing your stories of bubble tea drink in the box below.

Life is like a cup of tea – A cup of bubble tea will be nice😋

Duanwu Festival

The Duanwu (Dragon Boat) Festival falls on June 14 this year.

Duanwu Festival, 端午节 (Duānwǔ jié) in Chinese, is also widely known as Dragon Boat Festival 龙舟节 (Lóngzhōu jié) in the rest of the world, as one of its celebrative events – dragon boat race – has become so popular in the world. However, like last year due to pandemic lockdown in the UK, we are still unable to watch dragon boat races or to have cultural workshops on campus.

The head of a dragon boat in River Lagan. Image@LiangWANG

If you would like to review how we celebrated it in the past, here are some snapshots with links to full albums (via the Language Centre Facebook).

2020 Culture Talk

2019 Interactive Culture Display

2018 Culture Talk and Workshop

This time, while we cannot get together again, we have invited some staff and students to show and tell what they have done to celebrate the festival – making and eating zongzi 粽子(zòngzi), a typical type of food made of glutinous rice with sweet (e.g. dates, red bean paste) or savoury (e.g. pork, salted egg yolk) fillings wrapped up by bamboo or reed leaves, as the photos shown below.

Vocabulary

  • 粽(子) zòng(zi) – zongzi
  • 糯米 nuò mǐ – glutinous rice; 糯 nuò – sticky and soft; 米 mǐ – rice
  • 粽叶 zòng yè – reed or bamboo leaves; 叶 yè – leaf
  • 竹 zhú – bamboo; 苇 wěi – reed
  • 枣 zǎo – date (fruit)
  • 豆沙 dòushā – red bean paste
  • 咸蛋黄 xián dànhuáng – salted egg yolk
  • 猪肉 zhūròu – pork
  • 绿豆糕 lǜdòu gāo – mung bean cake
  • 装饰 zhuāngshì – ornament, decoration

Greetings

In addition to the common festival greeting that you may say 快乐 kuàilè (happy), many Chinese people also choose to say 安康 ānkāng (peaceful and healthy) or 吉祥 jíxiáng (auspicious). This is because Duanwu Festival is considered having its origin from warding off diseases and illness mostly caused by the rising summer heat and humidity which invited the invasion of poisonous animals such as insects and reptiles. Therefore, you will be able to see people use a varied way of expressions:

  • 端午节快乐!Duānwǔ jié kuàilè! – Happy Duanwu Festival!
  • 端午节安康!Duānwǔ jié ānkāng! – Wish you a peaceful and healthy Duanwu Festival!
  • 端午节吉祥!Duānwǔ jié jíxiáng! – Wish you an auspicious Duanwu Festival!

However, outside overseas Chinese communities, if dragon boat races are the only form of celebrations, i.e. beyond the context of traditional Chinese Duanwu culture, then people would find it normal to just express a happy festive greeting.

  • 龙舟节快乐!Lóngzhōujié kuàilè! – Happy Dragon Boat Festival!

More to explore

A video of QUB students tasting zongzi and other snacks. Video source: QUB Management School Weibo

Have you done something memorable this Dragon Boat Festival? Tell us and share your stories in the comment box below.

Happy International Tea Day

Cha or Tea? This is not a question in the Chinese context – it’s 茶 (chá) officially, while te (tea) is a dialect from southeast coastal areas like Fujian and Taiwan. So 茶 (chá) exported alongside the ancient silk road (by land) has been called as cha or any of the variants in those areas whereas 茶 (chá) exportation by sea has been pronounced as tea.

Eteamology
From Flickr @Eteamology

Tea is the world’s most consumed drink, after water. It is believed that tea originated in northeast India, north Myanmar and southwest China, but the exact place where the plant first grew is not known. Tea has been with us for a long time. There is evidence that tea was consumed in China 5,000 years ago.

The UN

Culture talk on Chinese tea at Queen’s

Did you still remember that we had organised a culture talk on Chinese tea in the year of Mouse at Queen’s?

Speaker Beidi Wang (second from right) with some of the audience celebrating CNY after the talk at the McClay Library, QUB
The introduction of tea history by Beidi Wang, QUB MBA graduate

The art of serving tea

Q1. What are the four essential elements in tea serving?

a) 茶叶 chá yè (tea leaves)
b) 茶具 chá jù (tea set)
c) 牛奶 niú nǎi (milk)
d) 水 shuǐ (water)
e) 火候 huǒhou (heat)
f) 糖 táng (sugar)
g) 蜂蜜 fēngmì (honey)

Q2. When you are served tea in front of you, what are you supposed to do to express your courtesy?

a) Say ‘谢谢 (xièxie, thank-you)’.
b) Drink it as soon as it is served.
c) Leave it untouched until cooled down.
d) Use your fingers to ‘koutou’ on the table as if bowing to someone.

Practising serving tea at a tea house in Suzhou. Image @LiangWANG

A survey

Nǐ xǐhuan hē chá ma
1) 你喜欢喝茶吗?(Do you like drinking tea?)

Nǐ xǐhuan hē shénme chá
2) 你喜欢喝什么茶?(What type of tea do you like drinking?)

Let us know your answers in the reply box.