The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

Calligraphy workshop encourages hands-on learning of Chinese culture

Participating students learned about writing horizontal and vertical calligraphy strokes during the workshop. (Photo courtesy of Jen-Feng Liu)

This past Thursday, novices and skillful artists alike gathered for the second annual Chinese calligraphy workshop.

The event, born out of Professor Yingying Huang’s love of calligraphy, aimed to educate participants on Lafayette’s Chinese department and the history of Chinese calligraphy in an engaging and hands-on way.

“At Lafayette, [the Chinese program] is a very small program. We only have one permanent faculty member,” Huang said. “People don’t have many opportunities to get to know Chinese culture in a more engaging way … You can take a class, but the hands-on experience, I think, is very important.”

“These are the things that we want to organize to draw people in, to really touch the culture, to try it themselves,” Huang continued. “So they really feel, ‘okay, this is how the Chinese people do it and I can do it too. I can get really close with the culture.'”

Those in attendance focused on their horizontal and vertical strokes, which ultimately resulted in attendees being able to paint a goldfish.

“They wrote their [letters], they felt it was really funny and I made fun of them and we all had a laugh together. We wrote and we drew cute and strange things and we just had a good laugh,” Huang said.

Jen-Feng Liu, a teaching assistant and one of the event’s organizers, believes that becoming engaged in Chinese culture is not as intimidating as it may appear and would benefit students of different backgrounds.

“This school is predominantly white people, but there are still Chinese and Asian students here. So I do think that it’s good for them to get more exposed to cultural displays,” Liu said.

“People who never learned Chinese, they might think that Chinese characters are pretty hard. But from my perspective, you don’t need to know Chinese characters to learn how to write Chinese calligraphy,” Liu continued. “It can be viewed as an art form to kind express your feelings. So I think it’s both interesting and also a chance to just take or experience a part of Chinese culture.”

A contest was held at the event and winners received a plethora of themed prizes. Professor Huang’s favorite prize was an item she described as “not exactly paper — you write on it with a brush using water, and it will show at first, but after a while, the water will dry and you have a new page.”

There were prizes for everyone. Even beginners received small gifts like bookmarks and words written in calligraphy.

While participants enjoyed the workshop, Huang noticed a significant decrease in turnout compared to last year’s event. She hopes to change that for next year.

“We hope to do more promotion next year,” she said. “This year we only put up the flyers in Pardee. I think last year, we had fliers all over the place so we had a full house.”

In the coming months, the Chinese department will be holding a celebration for the beginning of the Lunar New Year as well as a party with a dumpling spread.

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