Students in Chinese classes gather for event
Saya Okada, 3, of Dublin plays with a fan during the Moon Festival celebration organized by Dublin City Schools Chinese teacher Dun Zhang for her students and their families. Buy This Photo
Dublin Chinese teacher Dun Zhang shared a piece of culture with students and their families Sept. 30 through the Moon Festival.
Zhang, who helped start the Dublin City School's Chinese program five years ago, held the Moon Festival in Coffman Park last week, offering moon cakes, traditional Chinese games, snacks, music and other activities.
"Normally, I only do it in the classroom and it only gets exposed to the kids," she said. "I think it's wonderful to have family and friends there. They can talk to the teacher and ask about their children."
About 60 people attended the mid-autumn celebration Zhang said is Chinese equivalent to Thanksgiving.
"It's family reunion time. Normally in China right now, there is a seven- to 10-day holiday," she said. "A lot is closed in this time and people travel and family gets together."
Among the offerings at Dublin's Moon Festival were moon cakes, jump rope, the Chinese equivalent of hacky sack, music and games.
"We had a moon cake tasting and made moon cakes," Zhang said. "We had Chinese traditional games ... We had a calligrapher and some kids tried calligraphy. It was quite some turnout."
Zhang teaches Chinese I, II and III and her students learned about the festival before the Sept. 30 event.
"Before students go to the event, they learned the cultural portion, how people celebrate, what moon cake was," she said.
Chinese III students made invitations in Chinese and got feedback from other students about their work.
"It was a culture- and language-integrated assignment," Zhang said.
When founded, the Moon Festival celebrated the moon, which was considered feminine. Several tales surround the Moon Festival and moon cakes.
According to Zhang, one tale involved using moon cakes to communicate an uprising. Another about the moon involved an archer, his wife and immortality.
At the Sept. 30 event, attendees got to hear a song and Asian poetry about the moon.
Along with learning about Chinese culture at the event, Zhang said the festival offered students a chance to meet. For Chinese I, Zhang travels between the high schools and conducts classes through video conferencing.
"Yesterday students from all three buildings went. Different levels saw each other," she said. "That's pretty neat because they only know of people in their own classes. Now they can extend their friendship to other schools.
"Most important of all was to expose the community to the culture," she added. "Instead of assuming how people do things, they actually experienced it firsthand."