UC’s Worldfest Holds Special Meaning for Student Who’s a World Away from Home
Dan Li belongs to a student organization that will present a very personal look at China during UC’s Worldfest celebration.
Date: 4/28/2007 12:00:00 PMView the complete 2007 Worldfest Schedule of Events
By: Dawn Fuller
Phone: (513) 556-1823
Photos By: Lisa Ventre and CSSA
Dan Li says she was a student at the Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics when she discovered the international prestige of the University of Cincinnati’s top-ranked School of Design. She saw UC Design Professor Craig Vogel present at the 2002 American-Sino Industrial Design Conference in Beijing, and she thought his state-of-the-art concepts could have a dramatic impact on China’s future in product development. That’s what brought her to UC’s industrial design program two years ago, where she works as a research assistant for the Center for Design, Research and Innovation and graduates this spring with her master’s degree in design.
Li says as although she had learned English as a young girl, actually speaking it was difficult for a newcomer to Cincinnati from Guandong Province, located in Southern China, where her first language is Cantonese. “I think my biggest culture shock was the food,” she says, adding that although she likes the Cincinnati chili, she’s not a fan of burgers.
However, she was able to make UC her home away from home, after joining the UC Chinese Students and Scholars Association (CSSA), one of dozens of UC’s student cultural/ethnic organizations and one of hundreds of student-interest groups registered with UC’s Office of Student Activities and Leadership Development. “I had met a student who suggested I join the Chinese Student and Scholar Association and now I feel like I have a big family here. I’ve made lots of friends.
“I really enjoy the diverse environment that UC provides us, not only academically, but also culturally.”
Li is now co-president of the organization, which is presenting Worldfest’s “Travel to China” from 7-9:30 p.m., Thursday, May 3, in the Great Hall of Tangeman University Center (TUC). Like many Worldfest events, “Travel to China” is free and open to the Cincinnati USA community.
The “Travel to China” event will begin with a welcome from Li’s design professor who led her to UC, Craig Vogel.
There will also be folk dancing in traditional Chinese costume, martial arts demonstrations, Tai Chi, Erhu-Chinese traditional instrument performances, a photographic presentation tracing China over the past 30 years, post-modern Chinese paintings, paper-cutting demonstrations – a traditional Chinese art – an array of Chinese folk art and crafts, an exhibition of Chinese antique reproductions and a sampling of traditional Chinese cuisine.
Also on May 3, from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. in front of TUC, CSSA members will set up and greet the foot-traffic along MainStreet and use their skills in calligraphy to show what the names of passers-by look like as a Chinese symbol.
“UC’s Worldfest allows students to get a first-hand look at all of the student cultures on campus,” Li says. “For Americans, they gain a personal understanding of a country other than what they might read from a book or see in the media.”
Li says China itself is a diverse country with 56 different ethnic groups. At UC, she says CSSA has helped her discover the diverse academic interests of Chinese students, a plus for her own exploration in design and innovation as she makes friends with students in engineering, business, music and other fields.
And, despite being from a faraway land, she says the Chinese share a family tradition similar to a tradition in the United States. “The Mid-Autumn Festival brings families together just like Thanksgiving. Even if someone is far away, they try to get back home for the family to be united together.”
But until she can return home, Li remains united with her UC family and is looking forward to sharing a personal perspective of her home traditions at UC’s Worldfest.