“Why are my eyes always brimming with tears?
Because I love this land so deeply”
These verses by poet Ai Qing are known by most. This time, an English translation and explanation has been developed for a project, Online Museums, which has been gradually revealing a rich chapter of Jinhua’s culture to English-speaking audiences.
The English version of Jinhua’s Online Museums is part of some practical teaching content designed by the Zhejiang College of Shanghai University of Finance and Economics during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Based on the Chinese and English languages, the projects aims to serve the local culture and better tell the story of Jinhua through translation, dissemination and research,” explained Xu Yushu, deputy director of the school’s Foreign Languages Department. Through teaching activities and academic research, this project not only enhances students’ understanding of local history and culture, but also attracts internationals interested in the culture.
The Center for Translation, Dissemination and Academic Research of Wu Culture (Chinese: 婺文化译播研究中心) at Zhejiang College was established in May 2019 and gathers an active group of foreign language teachers and students who share the passion for the local Wu culture. In September 2015, on the occasion of the official opening of the Jinhua Museum, students and teachers of the college volunteered for the museum, offering their bilingual preparation in Chinese and English. Between 2018 and 2019, bilingual volunteers accompanied 13 international official delegations visiting the museum, including leaders from South Africa, Germany, and France. At present, similar services are extended to the Jinhua Exhibition Hall, the Bayong Tower, and the King Shiwang’s Residence.
In addition to oral explanations in English, the team also worked with the city museum to compile the booklet “Common English for Jinhua Museum” and a bilingual version of “The Legend of Jinhua Cultural Relics,” which in its over 80,000 characters includes more than 70 cultural relics unearthed in the Jinhua area.
Li Hui, director of the Center, said that relevant academic activities have been included in the electives of the Foreign Languages Department, resulting in the combination of history, culture, and language learning really appreciated by students. So far, teachers of the college have compiled a series of textbooks and reading books, including the “English Course of Wu Culture,” “Chinese-English Introduction of Jinhua Culture,” “Chinese-English Introduction of Jinhua Family Norms,” and “English-Chinese Introduction of Wu Opera.”
Li explained that the Center focuses on several aspects, including Chinese-English translations of Jinhua culture, collections and interviews with ambassadors of local intangible cultural heritage, and guiding materials for the Jinhua Museum.
“In July 2019, we presented a course in English on Wu culture at the St. Paul University, Philippines, also displaying creative works made by students,” Li said and confirmed that traditional paper-cutting works, for instance, were highly appreciated by the audience.
In June 2019, the Center sent a team of 30 teachers and students on a three-day visit to the Dongyang Museum and the Woodcarving Museum. On the occasion, the team interviewed 11 local artisans of wood-carving. The first bilingual video interview, presenting woodcarving master Lu Guangzheng, has been posted on the WeChat platform of the Center: “Lu Guangzheng, Carving Classicism with Time.”
The project Online Museums interprets the various stages of the intriguing tradition of Jinhua from various perspectives, including its history, geography, business tradition, and cultural heritage. One of the latest releases within the project consists of an eight-and-a-half minute video presenting the Shangshan culture and has been posted on the WeChat page of the Center: “Shangshan Culture.” (By Sun Yuanyuan, translated by Marco Lovisetto, edited by Mariam Ayad)