1st March 2019 by

The Ambassador Experience (Chinese/Lunar New Year)

Contributed by Belle (Tanyapa Tantrasadetee), Fancy (Zefang Zhang) and Nicolette (Ning Lee)

Thinking about taking part in a future celebration as a Cultural Calendar Ambassador? Want to know what to anticipate, or if it’s worth your time? Our Ambassadors from our Chinese/Lunar New Year Celebrations have you covered. Each ambassador has provided a brief description of their own experience of events, and we invite you to take the time to hear what to expect from them, first hand!

Our Ambassadors posing with the Cultural Calendar Instagram frame! From right to left: Belle (Tanyapa Tantrasadetee), Fancy (Zefang Zhang) and Nicolette (Ning Lee).

Belle’s (Tanyapa Tantrasadetee’s) Ambassador Experience:

Working for Chinese/Lunar New Year celebration as a Cultural Calendar ambassador made me feel like I was back in Thailand. Preparing all the materials for the event took about a week, which went really quickly thanks to the joyous atmosphere provided by the other ambassadors.  We exchanged knowledge and stories about the culture of the celebration in our different countries, as well as what we were studying. I would say that it was a really good opportunity to make new friends from across the wider University.

During the event week, we went to different colleges each day to decorate with lanterns and pieces of Chinese calligraphy. We also distributed free enveloped, easy-peels and fortune cookies to encourage students (and even staff) to participate in our activities. One the activities was Chinese calligraphy. I even learnt that during Chinese New Year, it is tradition to write “Luck” in upside down so that luck will come to you.

There were also several other activities I helped encourage others to participate in. These included: VR, making lanterns, and Tai Chi. Having the opportunity to learn some Tai Chi was something I’d never imagined myself doing before. However, it was very relaxing and fun, and the instructor Yanyan was very humorous!

Deciding to work as a Cultural Calendar ambassador was an experience that I’d never have in a classroom. I would definitely recommend anyone who loves to explore new things to be involved in Cultural Celebrations!

Fancy’s (Zefang Zhang’s) Ambassador Experience:

As an international student from China, it was my first time celebrating the Spring Festival away from home. For me, it was an exciting experience to be a Cultural Calendar Ambassador and I really enjoyed helping to celebrate our traditional festival with so many friends from all over the world.

Preparation for the event was spread out across a week, and the team were very accommodating to my study schedule. The most memorable part was packing over 2,500 red envelopes—the most I’ve ever had to pack. I really enjoyed putting flyers and chocolates into the red envelopes because it made me feel like I was sharing the good luck with others.

During the week of celebration, it was my honour to be an interpreter for Chinese Calligrapher Mr Hongbin Yang at his workshops. I also had an opportunity to display my grandpa’s calligraphy work throughout the week—which was a lovely opportunity to bring personal memories into the celebration. Over the course of the week, I must have encouraged more than one hundred students to partake in the activities we had organized. Getting students to pose for photographs for both our blog and Instagram was a lot of fun, and I also managed to take many excellent photographs.

Overall, the experience as a Cultural Calendar Ambassador inspired me. I worked with a really great team and the feedback I’ve received has been very positive. I was glad to see the international students have opportunities to experience Chinese culture through various activities—particularly those offered at the Guild on the Friday—and my Chinese friends really appreciate the event, which made us feel very much at home!

Nicolette’s (Ning Lee’s) Ambassador Experience:

Being a Cultural Calendar Ambassador was a great opportunity to celebrate the Lunar New Year 2019—The Year of the Pig—with so many different students from across the University.

Preparation was hectic, and it was a rush to fill all the red packets in a few hours spread out over the week. I felt well supported however, and would like to thank Liana, Niall, and my fellow ambassadors for their help. Looking back, I feel our teamwork was seamless, and I think this is thanks in part to the excitement that we all had for celebrating this cultural occasion.

After preparation, we spent the week of Lunar New Year organising events at different schools across campus. I really enjoyed visiting all of the different colleges, and meeting and many new people to share the culture of Lunar New Year, particularly how it’s celebrated in Malaysia, with so many individuals. Sharing my own experience of the celebration, and also finding out about the many different ways the Lunar New Year is celebrated globally made the event both meaningful and memorable for me.

Explaining Chinese calligraphy to other students and staff members also increased my appreciation for this art form as it was something I haven’t done for a long time. I felt very accomplished at the end of each session as I knew that I had increased awareness of the significance of the art of calligraphy among others—an opportunity that is rarely available in UK Universities.

Tai Chi sessions was also a first for me as back home in Malaysia, only the elderly people usually partake in this activity. It was more challenging than I realised too, and really tested my coordination and balance.

Overall, I had a wonderful and unforgettable time celebrating with the Cultural Calendar team. I’ll remember this delightful experience for many years to come and highly recommend participating in future events to anyone that might be interested!

We’d like to say a big thank you to our three ambassadors for sharing their experiences! And we recommend that you check out their contributions to the Cultural Calendar Blog by clicking the following links: Belle’s post, Fancy’s post, Nicolette’s post.

If you have any further questions about the Cultural Calendar Ambassador Experience, or would like to contribute to the blog for a future celebration, please email: n.f.gallen@bham.ac.uk

Cultural Calendar Project Team

Belle (Tanyapa Tantrasadetee) is an international student from Bangkok, Thailand, also known as ‘Land of Smiles’. She is a master’s student in Strategic Marketing and Consulting at the University of Birmingham. She previously earned her bachelor degree in Financial Analysis and Investment from Chulalongkorn University in Thailand. She’s keen to learn about different cultures.
Nicolette (Ning Lee) is an international student from Malaysia currently pursuing BSc Physiotherapy at the University of Birmingham. She loves to share her passion for Malaysian food and culture with others, and increasing her own awareness of other cultures.
Fancy (Zefang Zhang) studies MSc International Economics and is an international student from Beijing. In her free time she participates in a broad range of activities held by the university. As a Postgraduate Ambassador, she assists the Postgraduate team with projects to inspire the next generation of postgraduate students. Her friends describe her as enthusiastic, friendly and helpful, and she has proven these qualities while celebrating the Spring Festival as a Cultural Calendar Ambassador.

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