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.

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.

Call for participation

Please note that The Language Centre is not involved in this research project. Any queries regarding this project shall be sent to the organiser directly.

Paid Research Opportunity on Chinese and Malaysian Students

My name is Philip Howlett or simply Pip, as my friends call me. I am a PhD student in psychology at Queen’s. My research focuses on friendship, culture, and emotion recognition. I am currently conducting a study looking at the similarities and differences in friendship styles between international students from mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Malaysia, and home students from the United Kingdom and Ireland.

Friendship is an important part of our everyday lives and yet, we all have different preferences and experiences when it comes to our friends. This is especially true and makes great importance when we consider the difference in friendship styles across cultures so that we be aware of potential misunderstandings and therefore bring more people together from all over the world.

International students at Queen's
International students at Queen’s | Photo © QUB

Invitation to participate in my research

I am looking to recruit 60 international students to come into the David Keir Building for a 40-minute session where participants will answer some questionnaires and take part in an eye-tracking task. This is a great opportunity for students to contribute to funded research at Queen’s. All participants will receive £5 immediately after the session. In addition, participants will have the opportunity to enter a prize draw for a £20 Amazon voucher.

Requirements

To participate, you must meet ALL of the following criteria:

  • Aged 18 – 35
  • Originally from one of the following areas: mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan or Malaysia
  • Have lived in Northern Ireland for at least 6 months
  • Have not previously taken part in this study in February-May 2022.

Check for slots

If you are interested in taking part, please click here sign up to the study. If there are no slots available that suit you, please email me (phowlett01[at]qub.ac.uk) to express interest as there may be a chance for me to add more.

Looking forward to your participation!

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.

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Happy graduation

It was another day filled with celebrations, music, champagne, and smiles on campus as graduation continues. While we would like to say congratulations to all our graduates, we dedicate this special post to two students –

On Friday 1st July, Isabella (苏蔓伊) and Caleb (白威凯), two students from Queen’s Management School on International Business with Mandarin Chinese degree pathways, rejoiced with their families and their teacher Dr Liang WANG to cheer for their successful graduation from Queen’s.

Celebrations with a forget-me-not photo

They are the first cohort of graduates following this pathway at Queen’s and they deserve the great efforts after spending 3 years of study plus one year work placement. Congratulations!

We would like to send our very best wishes for their future and hope that they learn from what they have experienced for the preparation for what they aim to achieve.

千里之行,始于足下
A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

For any students who are interested in our International Business with Mandarin Chinese programme, please visit the course page.

Continue reading

A taste of Chinese tea with guzheng music

Welcome to the BAME&I Social and Wellbeing Event that aim to provide a space for staff members and students to meet and network, share knowledge and enrich intercultural experiences.

This event presents a taster session of Chinese tea culture with an appreciation of guzheng performance.

Organised by BAME&I Staff Network
Facilitated by Dr Liang Wang, The Language Centre
Contributed by Wei DENG and Fengting LIAO

Date: Thursday 23rd June 2022
Time: 15:30 – 17:30 
Venue: The Auditorium, McClay Library

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.