Carol Keil, president of the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) Branch of the Australia China Friendship Society, speaks in an interview with Xinhua after the awarding ceremony of the 28th Panda Competition in Canberra, Australia, Nov. 10, 2022. TO GO WITH "Feature: Understanding Chinese culture starting from a fan" (Photo by Chu Chen/Xinhua)
CANBERRA, Nov. 10 (Xinhua) -- From exquisite hairpins with flowers and hand-weaved red bags for "lucky money" of the Lunar New Year to Chinese emperors' hats with strings of beads..., handcrafts by Australian children in Canberra showed their understanding in traditional Chinese personal accessories.
On Thursday, students from five schools in the Australian capital received awards for the 28th Panda Competition, a signature event hosted by the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) Branch of the Australia China Friendship Society in the Chinese Embassy in Australia, for their works. It was named the Panda Competition because the topic of the first edition in 1995 was panda.
The students were between four and 17 years old, and their entries were judged in different age groups.
According to Carol Keil, president of the Australia China Friendship Society ACT Branch, in spite of the COVID-19 pandemic which made a big difference to the number of schools participating, they have received several hundred entries this year under the theme of traditional Chinese personal accessories, including hats, bracelets, rings, fans and even swords.
"The teachers are very supportive," she told Xinhua in an interview. "Some of the teachers put a lot of efforts into helping the children prepare the entries and do the research."
Three 17-year-old girls from St. John Paul II College made a model of Tang Dynasty headdress crown as shown in a Chinese TV drama, grabbing visitors' attention.
Four-year-old Ava Foster from Mawson Primary School won the third prize in the group of youngest participants with a fan she made.
Talking about why the girl got involved in the competition, her father Andrew Foster said: "Mawson Primary School encourages them to immerse themselves in the Chinese culture."
This is also what Keil would like to see.
At the awarding ceremony, children and their parents watched lion dances and enjoyed the performance of traditional Chinese musical instrument Guzheng.
Andrew Foster told Xinhua that Ava is going to the kindergarten next year in Mawson Primary School, and will do 2.5 days in Mandarin and 2.5 days in English a week.
"China is a big part of the Australian economy right now," he said, adding that the two countries have had a relationship for decades. "For sure it (learning Chinese culture and language) would be beneficial for Ava in the future...Maybe Ava could be a part of that relationship in some way."
Song Yanqun, minister-counselor for culture at the Chinese Embassy in Australia, said that the competition is special this year as 2022 marks the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Australia. He hoped that the children could become "ambassadors" for cultural exchanges of the two countries and influence more people around them.
"The aim of the Panda Competition is to promote Chinese culture," he said. "When little children start getting to know about Chinese culture from a symbol, whether it is traditional accessory or musical instrument as was the theme in a previous edition, they embark on a journey, from understanding to love. It is a good way for cultural exchange."
"Children are the future," he added. "Understanding in each other's culture from an early age lays the foundation for friendship in the future. When they grow up, they might be scientists, doctors, teachers, social workers, etc. It would be good if they could play their different part in boosting the China-Australia friendship." ■