Cultures are colliding at Sardis secondary.
For 21 days, 11 students and two teachers from Nankai high school in Tianjin, China have been attending classes at Sardis secondary. They’ve been mingling with the students, learning in the classrooms, touring the city, living the Sardis way. But this past Wednesday, the Nankai students gave a lesson of their own.
A Chinese New Year lesson.
Chinese New Year is an annual spring festival that marks the beginning of the lunar year.
It is the most important of the traditional Chinese holidays, said teacher Shi Ingwei.
And because they wouldn’t be at home with their biological families, the Nankai students decided to share the celebration with their adopted Sardis families.
Before the students left Tianjin, they planned the event, created invitations and organized traditional Chinese New Year activities.
And on Wednesday, the eve of Chinese New Year, the Nankai students crowded the school’s kitchen and started kneading dough, rolling it into long tubes, pounding it out flat, and manipulating it into chicken-, cabbage- and spice-filled dumplings.
“We call them pot stickers here,” informed Sardis secondary Grade 12 student Melissa Devries to one of the Nankai students.
On the eve of Chinese New Year it’s customary to visit with relatives and partake in a large dinner where symbolic foods are served; Chinese dumplings and long noodles included.
The round dumplings symbolize completeness and wholeness, and the noodles symbolize long life.
“They taste real good,” said student Chen Qiuyu, 16. “It’s similar food in your sushi restaurants.”
However, as Qiuyu learned, the dumplings in B.C.’s sushi restaurants are nowhere near as tasty as her hometown authentic dumplings.
“Not as good,” she laughed.
Every year, for the past 12 years, Sardis secondary has partnered with Nankai high school in Tianjin, China sending students, both ways, to participate in educational and cultural exchanges.
The Nankai students stay with the families of Sardis students who will be going on the exchange later this year, and vice versa.
“It’s a really great experience for the students,” said Nian Zhu, Sardis secondary vice principal. “It brings our cultures closer together.”
In the kitchen, as the decibel level grew with both English and Chinese competing for airspace, the students didn’t always understand each other, but their gales of laughter were universal.