Paper cutting, sticky rice and a little history in Paris' Chinatown

ISP's Grade 8 and 9 Chinese class took a short metro ride across the city and found themselves in Paris' very own Chinatown. The class went to the city's 13th arrondissement to engage with Chinese culture as part of their studies on holidays and the celebration of Chinese New Year. As well as taking the opportunity to talk to local people, the students took time to learn about traditional Chinese arts and the history of the Chinese writing characters. Grade 9 student Hanaé tells us more.

On Thursday, February 2, we went on a field trip to the thirteenth arrondissement. First we went to the Mairie du 13e to look at two exhibitions, and then we walked around the arrondissement and went into some shops. The whole experience was very interesting and it allowed us experience a different culture without leaving Paris.

ISP's G8/9 Chinese class go to Chinatown

The exhibitions were put in place for the two-week celebration of Chinese New Year and they were both quite interesting. The first was about paper cutting and stamping, two important art forms during this festival. This is especially true for the paper cuttings, which are displayed around people's houses during Chinese New Year. They are intricately cut and made of red paper as this color is believed to scare away the Nian monster who came to terrorize Chinese villages at New Year. These paper cuttings were magnificent. Each one had its own story to tell, often including animals and people doing everyday work. The stampings were equally beautiful and alive with color, showing warriors, women, and flowers in vases.

ISP's G8/9 Chinese class go to Chinatown

The second exhibition was about the origins of Chinese characters. It showed the very first characters found on tortoise shells found in the ground and how the language evolved from pictograms to characters. I found this exhibition very interesting because it added depth to our understanding of Chinese characters.

ISP's G8/9 Chinese class go to Chinatown

After we had finished looking at these wonderful exhibitions, we went to the Chinese part of Paris' 13th arrondissement. We explored Chinese pastry shops, Chinese supermarkets and Chinese street vendors. We bought sticky rice wrapped in bamboo leaves from a street vendor in the streets of Paris, which I found wonderful. The overall experience very interesting and fun and was a new and great way of learning about our unit of inquiry on holidays and Chinese New Year in particular.

Hanaé, Grade 9

This isn't the only class that have been marking the Chinese New Year of the Rooster – students in the Grade 6 and 7 Chinese class have been trying their hands at some traditional Chinese crafts too!