For Bernard Mwasame, the opportunity for students from the Chinese Club at State House Girls High School in Kenya to welcome the Spring Festival on Wednesday was a welcome moment. Bernard, who is the patron of the club made up of 80 students, said the Spring Festival is a good opportunity for his students to learn more about Chinese culture and traditions.
At hand was Ma Haishan, a Chinese calligraphy artist who took the students through the paces of writing the Chinese word ‘Fu’ meaning fortune and luck in English. In addition, the students were taken through aspects surrounding the Spring Festival such as lanterns and the significance of the tiger for the new year.
Zhou Meifen, an official from the Chinese embassy in Nairobi, said more people across the world have started to recognize the Spring Festival and she was glad to share the joy, blessings and togetherness brought by the festivities with the students.
“This is the first time the Chinese New Year has been celebrated in a Kenyan school and this is significant. It also comes at a good time because we will be hosting the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics and we will play you a video on aspects of the games from a Chinese cultural point of view,” Zhou said while addressing the students.
She reiterated that China is keen on inter-cultural exchange with Kenya especially through education, pointing out that currently, 1,200 Kenyan students are enjoying Chinese sponsored scholarships and so far, more than 2,500 students have studied in China.
“I am happy that you are interested in the Chinese culture and I hope you will study the Chinese language which will increase your opportunity to study in China. I also encourage you to work hard in your school work and to become ambassadors of the China-Kenya friendship to your peers,” Zhou said.
Mwasame said the Chinese Club at State House Girls started in 2017 and they hold two classes every week.
“Since we started the Chinese Club, interest in Chinese language and culture has grown and now we have two classes with 40 students each. In our weekly meetings we learn both theoretical aspects and the cultural aspects like kung fu and singing,” Mwasame said.
He thanked the Chinese embassy for choosing the school to share the joy of the Chinese Lunar New Year with the students saying that the engagement has brought his students closer to the Chinese culture and increased their curiosity about China.
“We have had previous collaborations with the Confucius Institute at the University of Nairobi where we have participated in various events and even had two of our students and a teacher visit China. However, with the embassy visiting us at the beginning of a new year, I believe our students will have more opportunities to interact with the Chinese culture,” Mwasame said.
Zhou also encouraged the students to keep up with their interest in the Chinese language and culture in order to increase their chances of studying in China.