Primary Years 2-5 students recently participated in another Chinese Learning Celebration event. Held after each topic unit, Learning Celebrations offer both Chinese as an Additional Language (CAL) and Chinese as a First Language (CFL) tracks a chance to join together and showcase what they’ve learned during the preceding weeks. As the recent topic of study has been “Chinese Traditions and Culture,” “students have focused on the many aspects and elements of China that make the country so unique.
But what are some of those elements? As the oldest continuous civilization in the world, countless cultural gems could be explored. But to highlight a few, we speak with Year 4 Co-Teacher Franny Guo.
#1 Pandas Only Fly FedEx
Native only to a small region in southern China, pandas have been shared with other countries to promote diplomacy and goodwill between nations. Yet, whenever a panda is born in captivity abroad, it is flown back to China – always by FedEx – where it is protected and cared for because, sadly, these beautiful bears are endangered, with only an estimated 1,800 still left in the wild.
#2 Paper Money First, WeChat Wallet Second
Though modern-day China is an increasingly cashless society, with digital payments on WeChat and Alipay becoming increasingly common, the Chinese invented paper money during the Tang Dynasty. Stemming from other Chinese inventions (paper and printing), the Chinese first created paper money because merchants found that carrying coins was too heavy in their pockets.
#3 What? Only One Time Zone?
China and the continental United States are roughly the same size, yet while this section of the US has four time zones, China has only one. This means that while the sun may rise on a given day in Beijing at 6:30 am, the first crack of dawn will be at 9 am in the westernmost province of Xinjiang.
#4 Display of Diversity
Today, 92% of Chinese citizens are classified as Han Chinese, though the entire population comprises 56 ethnicities, each with its customs, dress, and languages. Some of the minorities include Mongolians, Tus, Yugur, Yi, and Dai, making China one of the most diverse countries in the world.
#5 A Population of Ping Pong Players
As the country’s most famous amateur recreational sport, ping pong has more than 300 million players in China – roughly the same as the US population. Yet despite its popularity (and Chinese domination in the Olympic games), ping pong wasn’t invented in China – it first came from Britain.
#6 Playing for Emperors
As China’s most popular sport was invented in Britain, it was invented in China and created over 2000 years ago; football first dates back to the Han Dynasty, when it was included in military training exercises. The sport was later refined during the Tang and Song Dynasties when professional football players would entertain the imperial court.
#7 Terrific Train Travel
At over 121,000 km in length, the China railway network could loop around the earth twice! In one year alone, it carries more than 2.3 billion passengers. China is also home to the most extensive high-speed railway.