Overseas Chinese jump at chance to learn about traditional culture online

By Yuan Shenggao (China Daily)

Updated: 2021-08-27


Calligraphers from Shanxi show their works at the 2021 Chinese Culture Land-Laos and Cambodia event. [Photo by Kou Ning for China Daily]

Students in Southeast Asian countries like Laos and Cambodia, and especially those with ancestral roots in China, are being offered the opportunity to learn Chinese culture, thanks to online classes provided by scholars in Shanxi province.

One such class, which started on Aug 23, is taught by Geng Yue, a renowned calligrapher in Shanxi.

The class is part of Chinese Culture Land, an annual event launched by the China Overseas Friendship Association. It is designed to enhance the understanding of overseas Chinese teenagers and people from all walks of life concerning Chinese culture, which has been welcomed by participants.

The 2021 Online Chinese Culture Land-Laos and Cambodia was organized by the Shanxi Overseas Friendship Association and the Taiyuan Overseas Friendship Association. The event began on Aug 16. Organizers expect it will increase the interest of overseas Chinese in Chinese culture and, in particular, Shanxi's.

In his class, Geng talked about the history of Chinese calligraphy and the stories of famous calligraphers. He also demonstrated his own skills to students.

A Cambodian student, whose Chinese name is Jin Lishan, said she has been an enthusiast of calligraphy since she was a little girl, influenced by her parents.

"This is the first time for me to listen to a Chinese master calligrapher in a class," Jin said. "It's very inspiring and enlightening."

Jin said she wanted to study in Shanxi in the future and learn calligraphy from Geng.

Geng said he is happy to teach a class for overseas students.

"This is a good opportunity to promote Chinese calligraphy to the world," he said. "Chinese calligraphy is an expression that conveys the unique cultural quality and elegance of the Chinese culture."

While offering the students a chance to get acquainted with Chinese culture, the artist noted that there are additional benefits that calligraphy can bring them.

"It makes learners more concentrative in study, helps them improve their aesthetic taste and fosters a fondness in traditional culture," Geng said.

The earlier sessions of the Chinese Culture Land event had once all been held offline. Since 2020, they have been held online because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"We found there are many advantages to holding online events," said Teng Degang, deputy chief of the Shanxi Overseas Friendship Association. "It can reach a larger audience and engage more people in studying Chinese culture."

This year's Chinese Culture Land-Laos and Cambodia will last for 12 days, ending on Saturday.

In addition to traditional Chinese cultural mediums like calligraphy, painting, music and literature, promoting the cultural and natural attractions of Shanxi is an important part of the event, according to organizers.

Wu Jia contributed to this story.