CHICAGO — Nearly 100 American students gathered at the Field Museum in downtown Chicago, the most populous city in the state of Illinois, the United States, to have a taste of Chinese food and an in-person experience of Chinese culture.
They were in the museum on Friday for Chinese Cultural Day, on which Chinese students from Northwestern University on the North Side of Chicago presented Chinese folk dance, and Chinese students from the University of Chicago brought traditional Chinese musical instruments such as guzheng, erhu and flute, and performed Chinese folk music.
At the Chinese tea art show, the US students raced to answer questions, and several of them even tried tea preparations.
Students of different grades from private nonprofit Chicago Intercultural Montessori Language School sang the Chinese song Descendants of the Dragon, in accurate Chinese, and three teens from the school performed Chinese, a rap that is difficult to finish even for some native Chinese speakers.
“Chinese culture is extensive and profound with a long history,” and the Chinese language is a “golden key” to understanding Chinese culture, Chinese deputy Consul General in Chicago Huang Liming said in a speech before the event started.
“I hope, through Chinese Cultural Day, you will improve your understanding of China and Chinese culture,” he said.
Deborah Bekken, director of the Gantz Family Collections Center of Field Museum, said the museum “is thrilled” to be selected to serve as a partner for Chinese Cultural Day. The museum’s relationship with China started in 1906. Besides its Chinese anthropological collections, many curators of the museum have established strong ties with Chinese colleagues that have led to dozens of Sino-US archaeological field expeditions, publications and exchanges.
“The continuation of our research in China today would not be possible without the Sino-US people’s friendship and cooperation,” she said.
Joshua Chiatovich, a Chinese martial art teacher from a martial club in Detroit, in the US Midwest state of Michigan, instructed and led the students to practice Chinese kung fu.
A Jackie Chan movie aroused Chiatovich’s interest in China at the age of 8. He later went to Xiamen University after graduating from a US university, studying Chinese culture and philosophy.
“I was amazed by all the modern things in technology. It was such a learning experience for me, so I lived in China for four years,” he said.
Chiatovich said he met many friends in China and it was “the best time of my life”, adding that he found his calling in life, “I was supposed to teach people about cultural understanding”.
“We have to understand each other,” said Chiatovich. “What makes us different is culture. So if we can really understand someone’s culture, we can start to see them.”
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