Twenty families of students attending Meadow Brook Elementary school in Grand Rapids experienced a day trip to Chinatown in Chicago on August 15. hosted by the Confucius Institute at Western Michigan University. .
Many of the students on the trip in kindergarten through fourth grade have been studying Chinese in the CI at WMU’s collaborative Chinese immersion program hosted at Meadow Brook Elementary. The Chinatown trip is an opportunity to broaden the students’ and their families’ knowledge of Chinese culture.
After arriving in Chicago mid-morning, the group broke into four teams. Two teams started off the day in a dumpling workshop followed by a family-style Chinese lunch, while the other two teams headed out for a tour of Chinatown.
As part of the dumpling workshop, a hostess from the Chicago Chinese Culture Institute explained the Chinese New Year holiday and how dumplings became a traditional food of CNY celebrations. Then, the preparation began and the children and their parents were ready and excited to make dumplings. The dumpling filling consisted of pork and Chinese napa and northern style and southern styles of making dumplings were taught. Some quick learners soon became experts! The group was served a family-style Chinese lunch, then the dumplings made by the families were cooked and served.
Professional tour guides from CCCI also led the tours around Chinatown. Families visited both the old and new Chinatown and Ping Tom Park. The history of Chinatown and Chinese architecture styles were introduced and explained. Group pictures were taken in front of the famous Nine-Dragon wall.
On the way back to Grand Rapids, CI at WMU staff hosted a traditional Chinese game, “Jiguchuanhua” to entertain their guests. Here’s how the game works: Participants pass a toy when music is playing. When the music stops, whoever holds the toy is required to sing a song to the rest of the group. Both children and adults enjoyed the game and it soon became a Chinese song talent show. Gifts were awarded to performers.
The CI at WMU appreciates the great support received from the Chicago Chinese Culture Institute to host this successful trip. Everyone had a great time and the CI at WMU is already looking forward to the next Chicago Chinatown trip in summer 2016.