The Confucius Institute’s 11th annual Moon Festival Sept. 28 in the McCastlain Hall Ballroom featured talented students, delicious Chinese food and an overall atmosphere of celebration for this Chinese calendar event.
The McCastlain Ballroom was nearly at full capacity as the evening started with a song and dance from the popular Chinese film “Journey to the West,” performed by students in their first year of studying Chinese. This was followed by a beautiful vocal performance by Lecturer in Voice Marisa Ann Colón Corsino, with Confucius Institute student Xiao Yang accompanying on piano. Corsino followed this with another vocal performance with Confucius Institute student Zeqing Dong accompanying on guzheng, a traditional Chinese stringed instrument much like the Japanese koto.
Visiting Chinese professor Hongqing Li then performed “My Beautiful Hometown” with Yang once again accompanying on piano.
Following this performance, Confucius Institute students Eva Zhao, Jiajia Tu and Bingyue Lv performed a beautifully choreographed dance with silk fans. Dance acts were a prominent feature of the festival throughout the evening, featuring both traditional and modern dancing.
Several Conway residents were recognized at the festival for their involvement with the Confucius Institute. Wiley and Susan Barron received an award for years of involvement with the institute, as did Paul Patton. The Barrons often house Chinese students, and Patton was instrumental in getting the Confucius Institute’s soldier statue outside its office.
Confucius Institute director Guo-Ou Zhuang said he feels lucky to have so many talented students in the program. UCA is the only university in Arkansas with both a Chinese major and minor.
UCA President Houston Davis expressed his gratitude for the institute in remarks near the end of the festival.
“It’s not just about the language, it’s not just about the culture. It’s not just the economic exchange, it’s about building bridges,” Davis said. “Confucius Institute students enrich our campus. Thank you for making tonight possible.”
Sophomore Nato Silue said, “I think [the festival]was really great. It is an incredible opportunity to learn about the culture, and the songs were very beautiful and moving.”
It was Silue’s second time attending the Moon Festival.
About halfway through the evening, while attendees were munching on egg rolls and lo mein, the emcees — Victoria Hollinger, Lilly Shi, Steven Li and Jacob Carpenter — drew tickets for a lottery giveaway of handmade calligraphy posters.
Confucius Institute students participated in events throughout the week building up to the Moon Festival, including giving students free Chinese fare like egg rolls and dumplings outside the Student Center, painting students’ names in Chinese calligraphy and giving out information on the institute.
UCA’s Confucius Institute is one of the 350 Confucius Institutes around the world and was the 24th Confucius Institute to be established in the U.S., according to the UCA Office of International Engagement.
Photo by Taylor Sone