Sunday, December 02, 2012

Christmas with Linguists: A Multicultural Fiesta!

 Week 8 has been a phenomenal string of cultural experiences and fun to end off our first (Michealmas) term at Oxford, before digging right in to our take home exam essay topics. It all started Wednesday afternoon, for those of us enrolled in the optional English Language Teaching module. For our last class this term, we each had the opportunity to present a cultural holiday or tradition from our country. 

Majka with Chinese New Year sign
Back row: Julie, Kingsley, Kat, Mark, Ricky
Front row: Majka, Sapna, Dima, Paola, Anna, Fei, Ani, Quingli & Mengru


ILOVE having such culturally diverse, linguistically fascinating colleagues!

Here's what we learned:

  • Majka - taught us Slovak Christmas related words, and introduced us to the tradition of cutting an apple sideways and looking for the "star" at the core. A "star" means your family will have good luck in the new year!
  • Anna - introduced us to German cutlery words and the tradition of German Christmas markets
  • Dima - taught us a Lebanese dance, served us baklava - and best of all - taught us an old fashioned Lebanese celebratory chant. This is a short video of us practising the chant at our end of term dinner the next night: (since it's the first time I'm embedding from Facebook itself, I'm sorry about the sizing the picture to play)

  • Paola - taught us a very cute kids' song about the fairy that comes to visit Italian kids on December 6th - and puts candies in their shoes
La befana vien di notte
La Befana

con le scarpe tutte rotte
con la soltana alla romana 
(I'm not sure about this line)
viva, viva, la befana!

  • Ricky - told us about American Thanksgiving!
  • Sapna - I also talked about First Nations (Aboriginal & Metis) people and the traditional of "sharing circles" and oral storytelling
  • Flora, Kingsley & Fei - taught us to say Xīn Nián Kuài Lè (mandarin) and Gong Hei Fat Choi (cantonese),how to properly accept a "red packet" of money from an older family member, and about Chinese papercut art
    Chinese papercut

    • Mengru - let us try the art of Chinese button making - I definitely can't weave!

      Chinese button art

      • Qingli - enlightened us about a different kind of "Valentine's Day" They celebrate Qixi in China, and it's more of day to spend with family. The colours, instead of red and white, are pink and blue.


        • Julie & Mark (instructors) - brought us Christmas crackers full of trinkets and British mince pies (I seriously thought they had mince meat in them, but nope, they're sweet!)                              

        Here's a group shot of us at the Chinese Hot Pot restaurant called My Sichuan in Gloucester Green in Oxford on Thursday night, celebrating the end of term.

        From front left: Jeff, Paola, Sapna, Majka, Juliet, Dima, Sally, Glenn, Ricky Kat, Kingsley,  Fei, Bronson, Flora, Mengru, Claire, Sally, Anna, Ani, Alexandra

        Samuel, Mengru, Claire, Flora, Sally, Sapna, Samantha, Glenn, Ani, Jeff

        Well, the fun continued this afternoon with a Sunday potluck in the Common Room. Wow, did we ever have a feast! While I lack the gourmet chef skills of many of my classmates and just brought Christmas oranges and wine, we had an array of vegetable and meat Chinese dumplings, German potatoes, German chocolate cake, "egg spread" on toast from Slovakia (divine!), chocolates, shortbread, Chinese ginger dessert, wine, ginger beer, jamaican chicken, chinese cookies, green onion cakes (waaay better than what we get at home) and chicken with rice. The best part was the brief "borrowing" of college pots and pans to help us have our feast! There was also some dancing - but we made an ALSLA pact not to put those photos online :) 

        Chinese ginger milk dessert

        Well, I have to say, I don't think I've ever been part of such an amazing, culturally diverse group. Happy Holidays, everyone ---and good luck on exams! 

        I should get back to a PhD application due on Tuesday and start planning for those exam outlines due soon...stay tuned as we ALSLA-ers make some time for fun social outings around town for study breaks!

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