To enrich students’ understanding of traditional Chinese culture, and to provide them with an opportunity to experience the joy of cooking, the School of International Education organized a trip on April 18th to take twe-nty plus students from over ten different countries, including Japan, Senegal, Pakistan, to the Xi Jia De Dumpl-ing Museum. This is one of many cultural activities provided to students, and the first of its kind.
Dumplings (“jiaozi”) are an example of authentic traditional Chinese cuisine, and are a must-have item fo-r all important festivals and reunions. Although the students were by no means strangers to this type of food, the multitude of meanings represented by dumplings is truly hard to imagine. During the trip, students learned how “jiaozi” got their name, why they are shaped in a specific way, and what they represent. The museum exhibited a vast assortment of dumpling styles which impressed the students greatly.
After viewing this, the students were able to put their own skills to the test and prepare dumplings thems-elves. Carefully following the lead of the instructors, the students learned to properly fill and close the dum-plings and, although were not very familiar with the process initially, were guided by the diligent instructors with success.
After all preparations were made, the students got ready to boil the dumplings. As each student committed his or her own handmade “jiaozi” to the pot, the room became lively and festive. The dumplings on this particular occasion not only represented reunion of families, but also the sharing of cultures across the world. As the students ate, they discussed the experience of cooking this traditional dish. The trip provided students with encouragement and incentive to make their own dumplings in the future to share with their own families and friends back home.
This experience not only gave students an understanding of the significance of “jiaozi,” but also gave them an opportunity to discuss with each other the traditional cuisine of their own cultures. The culture of tradit-ional cuisine in China remains an important example of intangible cultural heritage, and is an indispensable form of expression for the Chinese people, one that provides exchange students with a perfect opportunity to better understand China. Although simple in nature, this activity is one of many designed by the School of In-ternational Education with the purpose of promoting cultural exchange and the sharing of China’s rich histo-ry with students.