Chinese New Year, a holiday celebrated by billions around the world was brought to our staff and students at NFSB on Friday January 31st. As part of the ongoing Diversity Showcase projects brought to students and staff at our two high schools by Jagdeep Trehin (Spiritual Care Consultant); this January the project continued with the new topic being Chinese culture. But this time Ms. Trehin was not alone, the energetic experts presenting, meeting and greeting the crowd were none other than NOVA’s International students. “With a smile on their face and love in their hearts, our International students wooed the crowd. It’s only with the assistance and support of Mr. Jean Bouchard (Principal at NOVA) and his pleasant International students, that this experience and event was made possible,” Jagdeep explains.
Howard S. Billings High School was transformed into a celebration exhibition as staff and students from NOVA, HSB and the Board office were invited to tour Chinese culture and traditions. A burst of bright red color, lanterns and unique décor, blissful music, elegant cuisine, beautiful art, ethnic costumes, and an aura of positive energy is how this event panned out, truly transporting visitors to authentic China! The NOVA Interior Decorating and Visual Display program went into full gear to create, set up and decorate the installations in a remarkable short span of time… and there it was in its full splendor!
The exhibition consisted of five interactive stations: Celebration Center, Music & Dance, Art & Crafts, Cuisine, and Customs & Traditions. Visitors worked their way through the various stations receiving information about the geography of China, major cities and important places to visit, common traditions related to the New Year, music and dance presentations showcasing Chinese opera, tasting an assortment of speciality and holiday foods. Visitors also had an opportunity to play Chinese instruments, learn a few dance steps themselves, watch and learn how to make dumplings (a holiday speciality), and watch artists stroke their brush on authentic rice paper decorating it with beautiful Chinese calligraphy. Many learnt how to spell and pronounce their names in Chinese, and left the most popular station of the day, Art & Crafts, with a personalized painting of their name.
Chinese New Year is amongst one of the biggest and largest celebrations for the Chinese around the world. Many of the International NOVA students were so excited and impressed to see that a holiday so close to their heart and heritage followed them across the seas even to Canada. Many exclaimed that this was their first holiday away from home, away from their families, yet they were still able to celebrate much the same way as they would at home. According to Chinese mythology, the celebration and traditions of Chinese New Year evolved from the story of a Nian (a beast that comes out of hiding every spring) who wishes to attack people. The story is of a community who works together in collaboration to save their village and the world. They discovered the weaknesses of the Nian, which included sensitivity to loud noises and fear of the red color. As a result the traditions of firecrackers, red robes and the intricate Lion Dance were established since these helped the community rid of the beast. Till today communities all over China and all around the world practice these traditions to ensure that the Nian does not attack again.
The goal of this event, according to Jagdeep, was to showcase yet another culture to our students, build more awareness about diversity, put into practice all the Character Pillars in a practical way. “What better way to learn about a beautiful culture and celebration, than to hear from those who hold the traditions so close to their heart. It was beautiful watching the interaction between the students from our two schools (HSB and NOVA), wherein a small conversation amongst them may just have provided a lifelong experience for both parties. This was a perfect opportunity that allowed students to practice respect, compassion and caring, tolerance, responsibility, fairness, citizenship…practically adding to our Character Education initiatives that NFSB holds so dear.” The Diversity Showcase presentations are living up to some of its earlier claims, providing individuals an opportunity to discover the world, showcasing diversity with real life experts, building awareness and respect and above all cultivating LOVE! “There’s more to come, let’s discover together!”