It’s the Year of the Ox and the Mandarin Speakers Association (MSA) has celebrated the Chinese New Year with a cross-community and cultural event.
Funded through the Community Relations Council’s Small Grants Scheme, the event took place in Derry-Londonderry and included highland dancers, the Armagh Rhymers, Shaolin martial arts, and opera soprano Chen Wang.
The Mandarin Speakers Association is a voluntary community group that supports the Chinese community and has been running a Chinese language school for 11 years.
“In the Chinese Zodiac, the ox is very hardworking and methodical,” explained Yang Zhou from MSA. “Oxen are known for diligence, dependability, strength and determination. 2021 is going to be a year when work will get rewarded.”
It’s important to be inclusive of all cultures and this event showed MSA highlighting Chinese culture as well as a diverse range of local perspectives.
“I believe people should be given a chance to engage positively with our community to better understand a very major world culture, and to network with our group to understand and tackle racism or barriers to integration,” Yang said. “Language and cultural knowledge gained through education improves attitudes of children and adults from different backgrounds and helps people integrate within the wider community.”
Yang noted that the North West is stronger because of events like these.
“The North West is not free of racism,” Yang said. “Often this is out of ignorance or lack of exposure or engagement with cultural diversity, therefore it is essential that people from different cultures and backgrounds integrate.”
The event was online this year and there were challenges that had to be overcome.
“We invited people to record their performance, as due to pandemic we cannot celebrate together,” Yang explained. “We asked the performers to send us video performances. The main challenge we faced was preparing for the event virtually and streaming the performance to YouTube.”
The Mayor and Chines Consulate attended the online celebrations.
She said: “It gives us a sense of pride that our work is being recognized and appreciated. The DCSDC and the General Consulate of China in Belfast have always been very supportive of our community.”
Funding from the Community Relations Council (CRC) has provided a pivotal role in allowing the event to take place this year.
“The funding from CRC has allowed us to increase the influence and the representation of Chinese people within local communities through Chinese cultural events,” Yang said. “We are able to reach more people and increase awareness of ethnic diversity to people from different backgrounds and origins.”
This event by MSA was funding through the Small Grants Scheme of the Community Relations Council. Learn more about the Small Grants Scheme.