One World Festival: Lunar New Year Celebration

This blog was contributed by Fengzhi Zhao, who is reading a PhD in Applied Linguistics and is Chair of the Birkbeck Chinese Society; Kevin Lau, who is studying Management at Birkbeck and is the SU Postgraduate Officer; and La Young Jackson, International Liaison Officer at Birkbeck.  

Birkbeck students celebrating Lunar New Year

On January 24 2020the day before the Lunar New Year, a celebratory event was held at Birkbeck.  

London has a large international community and so here at Birkbeck, University of London we held our own Lunar New Year celebrations to celebrate the start of the Year of the Rat! As part of the One World FestivalLa Young from International Student Administration, Kevin from the Students’ Union, and Fengzhi from the Birkbeck Chinese Society teamed up and transformed an ordinary teaching room into a room of festive activities and fun!  

Lunar New Year is the most important festival in many Far East countries such as China, Korea, Singapore and Vietnam. The event not only celebrated the festival for students, alumni and staff from these countries, but also provided a chance for those from other countries to experience the festival atmosphere of different culture. Students and staff had the opportunity to try various Asian snacks and drinks, with many snacks and decorations being directly shipped from Hong Kong, China.  

“With typical decorations such as Lucky Cat, Chinese couplets, and red lanterns, we are immersed in true Chinese New Year atmosphere”, said Fengzhi.  

There were many activities for students to participate. One activity was crafting Red Envelope Fish, which is commonly taught at primary school but can be easily be enjoyed by university students. As part of the New Year celebrations in China, in Mandarin, the word “fish” sounds similar to “surplus” and so it is considered to be auspicious and brings wealth to the person.  

Lucky red fish for Lunar New Year

It was a pleasure to introduce students to our traditions of celebrating the start of the New Year. I really appreciate all students from around the world taking an interest and understanding of why the colour red is so important to many of our cultures. And to all students, I wish them “学习进步” (progress in studies) and “金榜题名” (success in examination),” said Kevin. 

Students were also challenged to compete in a traditional Korean game of Jegichagi, where students would kick a jegi and keep it in the air for as long as possible. A feat that may be easy for those on the Birkbeck Football Team, but may be challenging for others!

Red envelope giving is a traditional Chinese gift that contains money and is given during holidays and special occasions. This tradition is about bestowing good luck and fortune to others. Students were shown how to make their own red envelopes and to write their own messages of good luck and fortune to those they wish to bestow fortune to, but were also given a more modern red envelope shipped directly from Hong Kong. Everyone who attended the event left with a red envelope with (chocolate) coins!

And so from all of us here at Birkbeck, we hope everyone will have a great Lunar New Year!

Fengzhi and Kevin

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One World Festival: Screening of 19 Schaffarick Street

This blog was contributed by Bojana Nikolic, MA Arts Policy and Management student at Birkbeck and a 2019/20 Chevening Scholar.

International students at the Birkbeck cinema

On December 11, 2019 as part of Birkbeck One World Festival I organized a screening of 19 Schaffarik Street. This event was initiated and supported by La Young Jackson, International Liaison Officer.

19 Schaffarik Street is a short movie, made almost entirely by students. It premiered in February 2019 at the Belgrade Film Festival and has since travelled to many festivals. The screening at Gordon Square Cinema can be considered its British premier.

The film was followed by a Q&ADuring the Q & A afterwards, the audience was able to share their thoughts and talk to the director Lana Pavkov, writer Dejan Prćić, and myself, as the production manager of the film. Some interesting questions were related to the storyline, such as Why are the kids left outside in the cold? How personal is the story? Some were more practically oriented, How did you get the sponsors on board? How did you manage to get those actors? And even a crew to crew question was asked, How did you manage to make me give up on the idea of having a dog in the movie? And our favorite question that says about the quality, but also the recognition of the effort put into this movie was, Is this really a student film?

The event was imagined as a peer to peer talk; the idea was to watch a movie in a relaxed atmosphere and have a good talk after it, and the expectations were met. The audience was engaged and we as the crew were open to answer all the questions, and the conversations even continued outside the cinema.

The director and writer flew in from Serbia to England just for this event and their overall impression was that it was worth the trip!

I am very thankful to La Young and Birkbeck for making this happen and I am looking forward to new projects!

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Seasonal Celebrations at Birkbeck

International students in Birkbeck’s School of Business, Economics and Informatics celebrated the end of term with a trip on the London Eye and our very own One World Festival Christmas party.

Birkbeck International Students on the London Eye

As the autumn term of 2019 was brought to a close, Birkbeck’s international students were treated to an array of seasonal events. From the College’s Christmas tree arrival, to this year’s London Eye outing, it’s always important to celebrate a successful start to the academic year. What’s more, with the return of the One World Festival Christmas Party, there was plenty of food and drink to go around!

It was the morning of the 2 December that Paul Munday and Ben Goodrum were on-hand to launch Birkbeck’s string of festive events. This year’s Christmas tree arrival presented students with the chance to decorate Birkbeck’s very own Christmas tree; spreading festive joy to the College’s main reception area. We think the end result was pretty spectacular.

Birkbeck BEI staff by the Christmas Tree

On Friday 6 December, the School of Business, Economics and Informatics took a group of 25 students to ride the London Eye. Taking off at dusk, this year’s trip to above the Thames proved to be as spectacular as ever. With a cohort of international students taking in London’s skyline, the trip was topped-off by a stroll through this year’s Southbank Winter Market.

International students on the London Eye

Last, but not least, this year’s One World Festival Christmas Party was held on Thursday 12 December. Under the warm heating of the 5th floor terrace, students were treated to snacks and wintry delights. La Young Jackson was the acting photographer-in-chief, we’ll let the pictures speak for themselves…

Selfies at the Christmas Party

Students at the BEI International Christmas Party The party food selection

From all of us here at Birkbeck, we hope you had a lovely holiday season and a great start to the New Year!

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One World Festival: Excursion to Bletchley Park

On this historical day trip, Birkbeck’s international students took a firsthand look at the key role played by British codebreakers during the Second World War.

The One World Festival is a programme of free events to celebrate Birkbeck’s diverse, international culture. The first outing in this year’s festival took place on Saturday 16 November, with Birkbeck’s international students gathering at Euston Station for a day trip back in time.

In just under an hour, students were transported out of Bloomsbury and into the secretive world of Bletchley Park, the headquarters of British codebreakers during the Second World War. Besides its historical context, Bletchley Park offers stunning scenery and an insight into the world’s earliest computers. Furthermore, with the legacy of Alan Turing hanging in the air, Birkbeck’s international students were able to experience what a difference a great mind can make with determination.

Students spent the day exploring the secretive world of Bletchley Park.

Throughout the Second World War, Bletchley Park led the British efforts to decode the encrypted Enigma messages of the German armed forces. After years of trials and tribulations, Alan Turing was successful in leading a team of mathematicians to success. In creating what was at the time one of the world’s most intricate computers, the German Enigma code was cracked against the odds.

A team of mathematicians developed computers to decode German communications.

Whilst it is always refreshing to experience a change of scenery, this excursion allowed Birkbeck’s international students to see another side of Britain and its history. With a great deal of emphasis placed on the role of the armed forces in times of war, Bletchley Park tells the story of academic genius and its potential to change the course of history.

Bletchley Park grounds: a refreshing change of scenery from central London.

La Young Jackson and Will Richards would like to thank all students who attended, and look forward to more exciting One World Adventures in the future.

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