Schools from across Northern Ireland were given a taste of Chinese language and culture at St Anne’s Cathedral, Belfast today (Wednesday, October 23).
230 pupils were taking part in Schools Think China, an event organised by British Council Northern Ireland and the Confucius Institute at Ulster University as part of a year-long cultural programme celebrating links between Northern Ireland and China.
Across the day, they were taught traditional Chinese activities including the lion dance and Chinese calligraphy, as well as having the chance to learn more about Chinese customs and dress. They were also treated to live music performances including the dramatic art of bian lian or face-changing, where the performer quick as lightning, changes their masks multiple times.
Speaking at the event, Miriam Lockhart, P6 teacher at St Columba’s Primary School, Draperstown said: “We’re a Global Learning School, so we’re always looking for opportunities to teach the children about different countries and different cultures. It’s important for our pupils to think beyond their classroom and our small part of the world.
“We also wanted to take part as we have a student from China in our class, and he is immersed in our culture every day, so we thought it would be lovely to spend a day in his culture. He’s just loved it and is on top of the world – the rest of his classmates have treated him like a superstar today!”
The event was also a chance to showcase to teachers the many free resources and opportunities available through the British Council around China – including school partnerships, Chinese Language Assistants, language immersion courses for pupils, competitions and classroom materials.
Speaking at the event, Jonathan Stewart, Director, British Council Northern Ireland said: “China’s influence on the world economy is increasing and it is important that we continue to prepare our young people for life in a global economy where collaborating internationally is increasingly important.
“Encouraging young people to develop intercultural skills to enable them to work with and connect with people from different countries and cultural backgrounds is vital and today is about beginning to raise that interest and curiosity in China.”
British Council Northern Ireland creates a number of international opportunities around China for Schools. For more information visit http://nireland.britishcouncil.org or follow on Twitter: https://twitter.com/BCouncil_NI