The United States is a place where people from around the world have brought their traditions and celebrations with them, including the Chinese. Cultural exchange between the two countries can also bring us closer and benefit both nations.
This year, the Lunar New Year, also known as the Spring Festival, falls on February 8, 2016. This is the most important traditional festival for the Chinese people, a time for family to come together. This week on Full Frame, we look at how Chinese culture and traditions are celebrated in the United States, and how its history is being explored in new ways.
Jeffrey Patchen: Celebrating China through a child’s eye
Visitors to The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis can experience daily life in China…without ever leaving the United States. The Take Me There: China exhibit is one of the largest on contemporary China ever produced in the States. The 1200-square meter exhibit is the result of a decade of planning and in-depth research, which included multiple trips to China by the museum’s researchers. Teams would study customs, culture and modern society, and then bring back artifacts and photos.
From Indianapolis, Jeffrey Patchen, president and CEO of The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, joins May Lee in our Los Angeles studio with more about how the world’s largest children’s museum is celebrating Chinese cultures and traditions.
Celebrating the largest Chinese New Year bash outside of Asia
Connect with Harlan Wong on Facebook
Celebrating the Lunar New Year is highly anticipated not only in China, but by countless cultures around the globe. In the United States, the Southwest Airlines Chinese New Year Parade and Festival in San Francisco has become the largest celebration of the Lunar New Year outside of Asia.
It began in the 1860’s as the San Francisco’s Chinese community looked for a way to educate their new homeland about Chinese culture and share their culture with their non-Chinese neighbors.
Harlan Wong is the parade and festival director. He produces a spectacle that’s been named one of the top ten parades in the world by the International Festival and Events Association.
Also joining the discussion Miss Chinatown USA 2015, Rose Li. A student at New York University’s Stern School of Business, she entered the competition to honor her heritage, showcase her extensive dance skills and take advantage of the pageant’s scholarship prize.
From San Francisco, Harlan Wong joins Rose Li and May Lee in our Los Angeles studio.
Eating up Chinese culture and heritage
Connect with Yong Chen on Google+
The Chinese first arrived in America in the 19th Century to work in the gold mines and help build the Transcontinental Railroad. Since then, they’ve made countless contributions in the United States and have captivated western palates with their cuisine. Virtually every community in the States has Chinese restaurants. Recent estimates reveal there are about 40,000 Chinese restaurants, nationwide. So, it’s official: the most popular cuisine in America is Chinese.
Joining May Lee in our Los Angeles studio to discuss this phenomenon is Yong Chen, the author of Chop Suey, USA: The Story of Chinese Food in America. He is also a professor of history at the University of California, Irvine and he’s chronicled the evolution of Chinese food, watching dim sum change from a Chinatown-only delicacy to a mainstream menu item.
And, joining May Lee, via satellite from Shanghai, is Clarissa Wei, a Los Angeles-based food writer, blogger and entrepreneur. She recently embarked on a two-year backpacking journey across China. As a second generation Chinese-American, she’s connecting with her roots through food, traveling to all the provinces to learn local recipes and, the stories behind them.
Zhao Cong: Bringing traditional Chinese music to a new generationWith a lifespan of almost 2,000 years, the pipa is one of the most favored instruments in traditional Chinese folk music. But the popularity of rock and pop music amongst the younger generation has created the fear of losing this distinct and ancient sound.
Zhao Cong, one of today’s most talented pipa players, has made it her mission to inspire a younger generation to listen to the classical sounds. She has incorporated pop sounds into her recordings and even created a patent for her electric pipa.
Zhao has made waves globally too. Her personal pipa album Sound of China was published by Universal Music Group – a powerhouse in the recording industry. This was the first Chinese traditional instrumental music album in the company’s history.
There is an old saying in China: “what belongs to the nation belongs to the world.” In this week’s Full Frame Close Up, Zhao Cong shows us how she hopes the music of the pipa can also belong to the world.