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KINGSTONâ€”Living near a big college campus has its advantages, especially if someone is interested in exploring cultures and languages different from their own.
This past weekend at the University of Rhode Island in Kingston was no different.
Together with the Chinese Culture Club, the Chinese Students & Scholars Association and the Chinese Language Flagship Partner Program, the Confucius Institute at URI hosted a 2013 Chinese New Year Celebration.
The Chinese New Year, which was on Feb. 10 according to the lunar calendar, introduced 2013, the Year of the Snake.
Dr. Wayne Wenchao He, the director of both the Confucius Institute and the Flagship Program, explained the Instituteâ€™s goal of promoting Chinese language and culture to the URI community, the local community and to local students from kindergarten through high school.
This Saturdayâ€™s afternoon and evening event began with a Chinese Culture Exhibition. He said that students, with the help of faculty, demonstrated and taught others in the arts of calligraphy, riddle solving, how to make a dumpling and more.
The exhibition was followed by a dinner reception catered by New Dragon Restaurant in Narragansett and was standing room only in URIâ€™s Memorial Union Ballroom.
He said they werenâ€™t expecting such a large turnout and â€śwe ran out of the food. Next time weâ€™ll prepare more.â€ť
All those at URI to celebrate could purchase raffle tickets that were drawn for prizes during the evening performance in Edwards Hall Auditorium.
Both URI President Dr. David M. Dooley and URI Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Donald DeHayes spoke at the celebration.
DeHayes gave a few â€śwords of wisdomâ€ť at the dinner reception and Dooley welcomed guests at the performance. Both remarked what a good year 2012 had been for â€śpartnershipsâ€ť with businesses and schools in China and looked forward to those continuing and growing in 2013.
This year, the Chinese New Year performance showcased five professional performers from New York City, along with the eventâ€™s hosts and organizers.
Notable singers were Liang Chen, known for his combinations of Chinese folk music and opera, and WeiLing Shao who has soloed at the Lincoln Center, Broadway, Carnegie Hall and the Washington Concert Hall.
Zhiqiang Wang, Artistic Director of the Chinese American Arts Council, and Julia Yu, who was a member of the Shenzhen Performing Arts ensemble, danced together for the audience.
The 2004 International Magic Competition winner, magician Suxiong Wu, also performed.
In between the professional performances, members of the Chinese Culture Club, Flagship Program, the RI Association of Chinese Americans and others performed. The URI Breakers got the audience excited with their break dance number and a group of the facultyâ€™s children nearly stole the show performing on keyboard and violin and singing in Chinese.
He was excited about the opportunity to show off their Flagship Program students. They hold two events each year and like the Moon Festival in October, it is not just students from China who speak and perform at the events.
One of this yearâ€™s hosts was freelance writer Kaylen Duarte who was a part of the Flagship Program her senior year at URI and studied and worked in China.
He explained that the U.S. federal government supports the Flagship Program and the programâ€™s goal to â€ścreate global professionals.â€ť
The undergraduates â€śhave their own professional majors,â€ť He explained, but also study with the program to reach the required â€śSuperiorâ€ť level of Mandarin Chinese.
During the capstone year, students enroll at a university in China, take courses in their own major in Chinese and then apply to stay in China for an internship.
Duarte secured two internships in China. On Saturday night, she, along with Chinese and other Flagship students, welcomed guests and introduced performers in both Chinese and English.