Hands-on cultural exchange with a difference

27 April 2017

In March and April the Confucius Institute hosted two workshops that were totally different from the traditional cultural workshops that are usually on the agenda

Image of gardening workshop

In an attempt to engage Chinese students that study at Manchester and introduce activities that they may never have tried before, we invited them to a creative writing and a gardening workshop. 

Students that signed up for the creative writing workshop had the chance to handle some Chinese artefacts from Manchester Museum that triggered the question ‘Where do I come from?’ Under guidance from writers Mary Cooper and Mimi Sun, many students surprised themselves with their own work after exploring their identity and childhood. ‘Writing can be a powerful form of communication and every participant can be a budding writer with the right encouragement’ Mary concluded after the workshop, which was attended by students studying physics, psychology and teaching. Their works will be on display on Mary Cooper's website

Hulme Community Garden Centre was the setting for our Chinese garden workshop on 26 April. Despite it being so close to campus and student accommodation, very few students have ever stopped there and to Chinese students it looks very different to the gardens they have seen before. Participants were asked to research 4 Chinese plants, Bamboo (竹子), Foxglove Tree (泡桐), Magnolia (白玉兰)and Kiwi(猕猴桃)beforehand to help them identify those in the garden. Seeds of Pak Choi (青菜)and Choy Sum (菜心)were sewn and different techniques were shared by Mark Firth, Activities Co-ordinator and Enterprise Manager who led the workshop. During their time together learning and being hands on gardeners, everyone had the chance to get to know each other and share their personal stories. We were also shown the plot of land that will be transformed into a Chinese garden with our seeded plants flourishing in the summer. We might even have a BBQ to enjoy some of our own produce – watch this space.

Keep your eye out for more workshops during the coming months. We look forward to seeing you there!

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