Happy Double Ninth Day

This year the Double Ninth Day, or 重阳节 (Chóngyángjié) in Chinese, falls on 4th October. It is traditionally an occasion for showing respect to the elderly or ancestors, as well as attaching special importance to families. One of the customary cultures of practice is to climb a hill to a high place (爬山登高 pá shān dēng gāo) and think of their departing family members with good wishes.

In contemporary times it is an occasion for outdoor exercising (户外运动 hùwài yùndòng) such as excursion (远足 yuǎn zú). In Belfast, the Cave Hill is such a great outdoor site for both local and international residents to go hiking. The photos below are from Ziqing Wei (魏子晴), a postgraduate in interpreting, who recently went out with her friends to climb the Cave Hill for fun.

‘远离城市的浮躁和喧嚣,感受大自然,在山顶眺望远方海天相接处,享受内心的宁静。’

Translation: It’s great to be able to distance myself from the hustle and bustle of the urban life and to appreciate the peace of mind when I can embrace the nature, looking afar from the top of the Hill until the end where the sky and the sea disappear into thin air.

The Fun of Underwater Hockey

Image@XiaXiaoxuan

As the summer solstice (夏至 xiàzhì, lit. the arrival of the summer) approaches soon on 21st June, regardless of the real temperature, we would like to introduce to you a sport that suits the season – underwater hockey through the eyes of XIA Xiaoxuan (夏霄璇), a Queen’s PhD candidate and Belfast Underwater Hockey (UWH) member.

What is underwater hockey
Underwater hockey (水下曲棍球 shuǐxià qūgùnqiú) is a fun, fast-paced, three-dimensional game played at the bottom of a 2.5-metre-deep pool. Two teams of six players in the water and four subs (替补队员 tìbǔ duìyuán) face off against each other. Players wear 1) a snorkel (呼吸管 hūxīguǎn), 2) a headgear (泳帽 yǒngmào), 3) a mask (面罩 miànzhào), 4) fins (脚蹼 jiǎopǔ), and 7) a protective glove (防护手套 fánghù shǒutào). They score goals with 5) a stick (球棍 qiúgùn) to hit 6) a puck (冰球 bīngqiú) by using skill, freediving (自由潜水 zìyóu qiánshuǐ), manoeuvrability and holding their breath.

The sport first appeared in England in 1954, when Alan Blake invented a game he called Octopush. Blake used the game to keep Southsea Sub-Aqua Club members active during winter when open-water diving lost its appeal. Since then, it has expanded globally.

An accidental engagement

An accidental opportunity, I started playing underwater hockey in the summer time in 2019. When I finished my swimming, I noticed some people in the diving pool practicing freediving, which I had always wanted to learn. So I had a quick chat with them about their next training time and my willingness to join in. When I came to the ‘freediving’ training, I noticed it was so much more than just freediving – they were holding short sticks at the bottom of the pool and fighting each other to get a puck into the goal.

‘Well, I just came here to learn freediving. Once I touch the bottom, I’ll definitely quit.’ I told my coach, a player in the QUB UWH team.

At my third training session, I finally touched the bottom of the pool and could control my breath well. My teammates warmly congratulated me and encouraged me to join in the game just for fun and promised that they would be kind to me.

‘This will be my last training anyway, and this game might be my last UWH game.’ I thought and joined in. However, I changed my mind when I touched the puck set in the centre at the bottom of the pool. I wanted to play this game! When I pushed the puck into the goal, I confirmed my decision about playing the UWH in the future!

I have been trained in the team over the past few years and played with different teams in different pools. Fortunately, I had the opportunity to join in the Women’s Nationals 2022, an underwater hockey competition held in Leeds, as a member of the Irish Women’s Team.

The fun factors of playing UWH

There are good reasons why I’m now so fond of (非常喜欢 fēicháng xǐhuan; 乐此不疲 lè cǐ bù pí) playing underwater hockey. I like the quiet but tacit cooperation between team members (团队成员 tuánduì chéngyuán). It helps me to keep up my training to hone my skills as well as reach my own individual fitness goals (健身目标 jiànshēn mùbiāo) better. When I play the UWH, the only two things I care about are my breath and the puck, which help me to copy with stress.

My skills improved during this time, and more importantly, I met lots of lovely people of all ages, from all over the world who are passionate about UWH too. Some have played UWH since their youth for over twenty years and kept up excellent levels of fitness and skills. Some of them met each other through UWH training and eventually got married and had a baby. Some of them encouraged their family members to join in the sport – now, a father might not possess the puck all the time due to the solid defence and strong attack from his daughters!

Thanks to my accidental encounter with it, I have really been in love with underwater hockey as an excellent and attractive sport to enrich my life experience while doing my PhD study. I definitely recommend it to you all and beginners are always welcome!

Belfast Underwater Hockey Club at Queen’s

QUB UWH Club

Belfast UWH was first established in 2014 and since then we have grown into a diverse club with members from all over the world, various ages and skill levels. We represent Queens University Belfast at numerous tournaments throughout the year including Student Nationals, Irish League games and International tournaments where everyone is welcome on the team regardless of skill level.

Belfast UWH

2021 Christmas Dinner Party | Image@BelfastUWH

Author: XIA Xiaoxuan
Editors: Lauren McShane and WANG Liang

Have you joined any other QUB Sport Clubs? You are very welcome to share your experience by using the comment box below.

Dragon Boat Racing

Happy Chinese Dragon Boat Festival! 龙舟节快乐!

The Dragon Boat Festival, or Duanwu Festival (端午节 Duānwǔ jié), is a traditional Chinese festival with a history of over 2000 years. It occurs on the 5th day of the 5th month in Chinese lunar calendar, which falls on Friday 3rd June this year.

Duanwu Festival is widely known as Dragon Boat Festival (龙舟节 Lóngzhōu jié) to the rest of the world, as one of its celebrative events – dragon boat racing – has become so popular (受欢迎 shòu huānyíng) in the world.

Today, we would like to invite Dr YAO Xudan (姚旭丹) to introduce dragon boat racing and share with us her interesting experiences of joining in races when she was in Belfast and more recently in Manchester.

Image@LiangWANG

YAO Xudan (姚旭丹) studied her PhD in Queen’s University Belfast from 2014 to 2018. Afterwards, she joined the National Graphene Institute, University of Manchester, as a postdoctoral research associate. Currently, she is continuing her research in Queen Mary College, University of London.

Dragon Boat Racing in Belfast

When I was doing my PhD at Queen’s, I joined dragon boat racing as a paddler twice in 2015 and 2016, as a member of Team QUB, which were organised by Chinese Welfare Association NI. People from different professional backgrounds, including universities, associations, boat clubs, etc., signed up for the events with full enthusiasm. Chinese food was prepared and supplied to all participants. Although we did not win in the end, everyone enjoyed the teamwork spirit (团队精神 tuánduì jīngshén) during racing, despite the bad weather. My colleagues from Spain and India were so excited that they wanted very much to follow up celebrations as such in the future. I believe that our traditional culture (传统文化 chuántǒng wénhuà) could be shared and accepted widely in this engaging way.

Dragon Boat Racing in Manchester

On 29th May 2022, the Chinese Dragon Boat Festival was held in Manchester, with 36 teams from universities, companies and institutions participating in the competition. With my previous experience of Belfast races I joined one of the University of Manchester teams, which was formed by all girls. The morning was a bit wet but fortunately it became sunny during the race. Again, although we could not enter into the final competition (决赛 juésài), we were satisfied with our great team performance and enjoyed ourselves. Apart from the racing, the festival also included Chinese kung fu performance (功夫表演 gōngfu biǎoyǎn), singing (唱歌 chànggē), dancing (跳舞 tiàowǔ) and tasting (品尝 pǐncháng) traditional Chinese food such as zongzi (粽子 zòngzi), baozi (包子 bāozi), marinated eggs (卤蛋 lǔdàn), making it an exciting and fun experience.

Overall, dragon boat racing is really one of the wonderful occasions for people to get together and celebrate our traditional festival, as well as to enhance intercultural communication and understanding between people of different communities.

About dragon boat racing

Dragon boats are human-powered watercrafts originally made of wood, and in modern times upgraded into carbon or glass fibre composites, as well as other lightweight materials. They are universally decorated with a Chinese dragon head and tail. For racing, a standard dragon boat typically consists of 20 paddlers, one drummer facing toward the paddlers, and one steerer. However, there are also small boats with a capacity of 10 paddlers.

Image@XudanYao

Author: YAO Xudan
Editors: Martin Duffy and WANG Liang

Have you joined any boat racing events before? You are very welcome to share your experience by using the comment box below.

More to read

Here are posts about our past celebrations of Dragon Boat Festival, if you are interested in getting to know more about our celebrations at Queen’s.

QUB boat racing event

After a 3 year absence the 16th annual Queen’s University Belfast Boat Race will take place next month, with Queen’s men and women rowers taking on Trinity College Dublin on Saturday 11 June 2022. As well as the main event there will also be junior races involving local schools racing over the 2km course.

For more information click QUB Event page.

Belfast Marathon and I

Whilst it is a regret that the Great Wall of China Marathon (22/05/2022) has to be cancelled at the last minute due to Covid19 pandemic and regional lockdowns in China, we would like to bring your memory back to our local Belfast City Marathon (马拉松 Mǎlāsōng) taking place on the 1st May, through the eyes of XIE Pingping (谢萍萍), a PhD candidate in Education from School of Social Sciences, Education and Social Work.

Image@XiePingping

After XIE Pingping obtained her master degree in TESOL from School of Social Sciences, Education and Social Work, she has successfully become a PhD candidate. She has also been an International Student Ambassador since her enrolment.

My unforgettable Belfast City Marathon experience

On 1st May 2022, I completed my first ever marathon in Belfast. Although I reached the finishing line at 14:55, only five minutes before the closing time, I was still so proud of myself with such a wonderful experience!

Screenshot of XIE Pingping’s record on the Belfast City Marathon

Preparation

I registered for the event six months ago, just after a taster session (体验课 tǐyànkè) for the Marathon in 2021, which consisted of an eight-mile walk programme on the marathon day. It was a great experience, so I decided to take on a bit more of challenge. Unfortunately, there was no half (半程 bànchéng) marathon in May, so I had to run the full (全程 quánchéng) marathon.

I found a training plan (训练计划 xùnliàn jìhuà) online and tried my best to stick to it, although it was not easy to follow the plan. During the training period, I ran along the River Lagan towpath (蓝亘河纤道 Lángènhé qiāndào) and really enjoyed myself at a very slow and comfortable pace. I also joined the 10-week Couch to 5k Programme at Queen’s Sport, where I met some other runners from Queen’s and I treated it as the speed run (快速跑 kuàisù pǎo) part of my training because apparently everybody else ran faster than I did!

On the day

Image@XiePingping

After about six months’ exercise, I finally arrived at the start line, ready for the marathon, amongst thousands of other fellow runners. It was cloudy with drizzle, but I would say that it was a perfect day for running. I knew that it was my big day, but to be honest, I was not too sure whether I could finish the whole race. In fact, I did some homework in advance and decided on my quitting point at a First Aid (救护站 jiùhù zhàn) point about 30k away from the starting point, as some trainers suggested.

After we kicked start, I felt that I ran super slowly and when I reached the quitting point, I was rather disappointed to find out that there was no food or water supplement at that point. I said to myself that it would be too stupid to wait there, plus I felt quite able to move on, so I gathered my strength to keep running.

The whole journey was full of craic! For example, I met a runner carrying a guitar – probably carrying it the whole way as I guessed! Full of compassion, he often sang lines of lyrics in response to the people on both sides cheering for him! I also saw a lady running without training shoes. I did not know why, but I believed that she was running for charity, really a brave woman! Some churches even had their own music band and played live music on the street to cheer on the runners.

An unforgettable day

It has been such a pleasant race that I will never forget! All the people I met on my way were so nice and friendly. I am glad that I did not give up half way, as it is such a great memory when I recall those lovely children cheering with their parents and grandparents, holding bowls and plates, kindly giving fruit and sweets to runners, and their cheering up for us, ‘Keep going (继续加油 jìxù jiāyóu), you are almost there!’ I have never felt as full of gratitude as I did that day.

Thank you, Belfast Marathon, for such an unforgettable day!

More of her photos can be seen from the Belfast City Marathon webpage.

Author: XIE Pingping
Editors: Lauren McShane and WANG Liang

Continue reading

Chinese Kung Fu at Queen’s

Whilst May-June is a busy and bustling season with exams and essay deadlines, it is also fleshed out with more exciting events such as the Development Weeks programme and the Chinese Cinema Season.

Today, we are delighted to introduce you to a student-led event from the Queen’s Sport Active Campus programme – Introduction to Chinese Kung Fu – to help relax your body and refresh your mind while combating the heavy workload.

May be an image of 1 person and text that says "QUEEN'S UNIVERSITY BELFAST QUEEN'S SPORT INTRODUCTIONT CHINESE KUNG FU Open to all levels! 4 WEEK COURSE Sunday 15TH May June TIME: 2-3pm LOCATION: Minor Hall Sign up through the Queen's Sport App or MS Forms."
Queen’s Sport FB

Kungfu (功夫 gōngfū), or Wushu (武术 wǔshù), is an ancient form of Chinese martial arts, as well as a full-contact sport. It started off just as a warmup for military exercises and became a military subject in earlier days. In contemporary times it is seen as a way of self-defence and physical fitness, and it has been officially recognised as an international sport.

From 15th May to 5th June, these four Sunday sessions are provided free for QUB staff, students and wider public members to get a taste of the charm of Chinese martial arts and to appreciate its artistic performance with diversified functions that are handy for all to learn to practise. The taster sessions also aim to help people to demystify Chinese martial arts culture through exercising their mental and physical reaction abilities.

Registration is now open and you are required to secure a place due to capacity.

About the coach

  • SHUAI Qi (帅琪), MSc candidate in Management from Queen’s University Management School
  • Born and brought up in a family of Chinese Wushu tradition
  • Champions of Wushu competitions at different levels
  • Registered national athlete
  • Rich experience in coaching at various levels both in China and elsewhere

I took the Chinese Kungfu Champion of Jiangxi province in 2016. Born and brought up in a family of Wushu tradition, I have started practising martial arts under my father’s supervision when I was five years old. I began to teach martial arts in a local kindergarten when I attended a middle school. Then I founded my first martial arts club in my high school. When I went to my university I taught some international students Chinese martial arts.

I enjoy making friends through sharing the culture of martial arts, and I also hope that I can promote Chinese martial arts among my international friends at Queen’s.

Shuai, qi

If you would like to receive updates about this event, you may follow Qi’s Instagram account:

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.

World Table Tennis Day

Happy World Table Tennis Day! 国际乒乓球日快乐 (Guójì Pīngpāngqiú Rì Kuàilè)!

Did you know that World Table Tennis Day is celebrated annually on 6th April since 2015, which also marks the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace?

From ITTF

Did you know that table tennis, or 乒乓球 (pīngpāngqiú) in Chinese, is considered the national game in China? And did you know that Chinese has become sort of a common language (unofficially) that many top players of the world are using it, especially at international games? Did you know why table tennis play shouted ‘cho’ at their match?

Actually ‘cho’ is not the Chinese spelling of the pronunciation, instead, it should be ‘ (qiú)‘ which means ball. In its more complete sense it should be ‘好球 (hǎo qiú)’ – lit. good ball (good point, well played) – in Chinese, a typical way of cheering for themselves when scoring. 好 (hǎo) tends to give a weak sound in the syllable and it is often omitted in competitions. So, shouting ‘球 (qiú)’ or ‘cho’ has become a fashion and trend in many international table tennis matches where Chinese players compete.

Then, how to encourage players in a competition, especially when they are in great difficulties, in Chinese? Here are some simple phrases for you to grasp:

  • 加油 (jiāyóu) – lit. add oil; come on, go for it
  • 别放弃 (bié fàngqì) – Don’t give up!
  • 你能行 (nǐ néng xíng) – You can do it!
  • 坚持就是胜利 (jiānchí jiù shì shènglì) – Perseverance leads to victory!

Did you also know that at Queen’s we have a QUB Table Tennis Team (multinational) and there used to be a Chinese team of students and staff members? If they played against each other, which team do you hope to win? Learn how to express hope in Chinese now:

Copyright@LiangWang
  • 女王大学乒乓球队 (Nǚwáng Dàxué Pīngpāngqiúduì) – Queen’s University Table Tennis Team
  • 中国师生队 (Zhōngguó shīshēngduì) – Chinese Student-Staff Team
  • – 你希望哪个球队赢 (nǐ xīwàng nǎ ge qiúduì yíng)?Which team do you hope to win?
  • – 我希望…… (wǒ xīwàng…) I hope …

So, which team do you hope to win? Give your answer by using the structure and phrases above and get some practice.

Of course, in many games, we just want to play for fun and to develop friendship. So in this context, we would say ‘friendship first, competition second’ – 友谊第一,比赛第二 (yǒuyì dì yī, bǐsài dì èr).

CNY celebration 2017 at Queen’s – Table Tennis Taster Event at PEC

Finally, we hope that you will like table tennis game and join us for fun at some time.

CNY celebration 2017 at Queen’s – Table Tennis Taster Event at PEC
  • 我们喜欢乒乓球 (wǒmen xǐhuan pīngpāngqiú)!

Want to learn more Chinese? Check the Language Centre website for Mandarin Chinese course registration information.

Reminder: Registration will close promptly at 17:00 on Thursday 15 April. Classes are expected to be extremely popular and usually fill up quickly, so early registration is strongly recommended.