We were delighted to host part our Lottery Heritage Funded Project – Writing the Future (Young Roots) in partnership with Manchester Museum on 16th September 2017.
This took the shape of a Family Fun day for interested members of the public. There were over 100 participants on the day and they all had the opportunity to try Cantonese Chinese calligraphy, Cantonese speaking and Chinese ink blowing. There was also a special workshop for people to make cards and take home to their loved ones. The day event was very joyful and successful.
The Confucius Institute also participated with some Mandarin workshops, which made it very interesting for everyone to see and compare both Chinese languages.
Thirteen young people from our Cantonese Heritage project worked on the day and skillfully facilitated four workshops. More importantly, they were able to gain confidence and take pride in their Cantonese heritage.
Note: The project is intended to help the young people of Manchester’s Chinese community to deepen their understanding of their oral and written linguistic heritage. The first strand of the project will focus on helping them to a greater understanding of Cantonese language, which most of their parents speak. The language is a reflection and representation of Cantonese culture, its values and mores. Effective preservation of spoken Cantonese relies upon the ability to write traditional Chinese script. The second strand is to help them to learn the traditional version of written Chinese. More and more a simplified version of Chinese script is being used, which threatens to undermine its integrity, and lose the subtleties and points of emphasis of the Cantonese. Young people are particularly vulnerable to this move, as they make most of their written communications in English and increasingly see Chinese as secondary. Many Cantonese words can only be written in the traditional Chinese script, so if they are not practised in traditional writing they will lose their access to parts of the language. The young people are aware that they are at risk of losing an important part of their heritage and identity as Chinese heritage people, even as they enjoy their status as young Mancunians. The young people are keen to take part in activities with older people from the community who can pass on to them their first hand experience of writing and understanding the form of traditional Cantonese.