May 13, 2017 – The inaugural Sharon Chinese Culture Festival was held at the Sharon East Elementary School on May 13th at 6:30pm. Organized by the Sharon Chinese Association (SCA), the festival is a manifestation of months of meticulous organization by a handful of SCA board members and generous volunteering by numerous community members. What’s most crucial is the tremendous support from the Sharon Public Schools (SPS).
From the onset, the organizers envisioned it to be a fair-style event that is festival, family friendly, inclusive, and educational. Indeed, the night’s fair-goers were immersed in the cultural affluence and diversity of the Chinese American community in Sharon through nine on-stage shows. These include Tai-chi, Guzheng, a live Qipao fashion show, Peking Opera Farewell My Concubine, Chinese Kungfu, classical folk songs, classical dances of the minority Chinese people of Dai. As if the shows were not stunning enough, there were a dozen or so display centers each hosted by one or more members from the community. The hosts are masters of amazing the visitors through unraveling the exhibited item or demonstrating its functionalities. The visitors, from young to old, get to play a Ping Pong game at the entrance, practice Chinese calligraphy on one table, and challenge each other’s Chinese chess skills on the other. Some were busy trying out classical gowns, or enjoying the models of Chinese red wood furniture. The others were exploring the tea culture, or delving into a sea of mini Chinese musical instruments. When hungry, you can head to the chocolate/candy table. The only catch is that you would have to master the chopsticks well enough to pick up your beloved choice. Last but not least, the youngsters have a chance to appreciate the modern technology by trying some arithmetic out on an abacus.
As other SCA events, the festival is open to the general public with the shows moderated in English. While there are subtleties such as Ying -Yang philosophy and Feng_Shui (a kind of geomancy and geography ) that were proven hard to comprehend even by the Chinese descendants, many items do speak by themselves. As a result, the event was attended by people with various ethnicities with the room reaching full capacity thanks in part to the advertisement by SPS. The community-school cooperation actually has its roots in Chinese-American interactions many years ago according to Andy Nebenzahl, a former SPS school committee member. Mr. Nebenzahl opened the festival cherishing the fond memory of initiating the Chinese language class at SPS and establishing an exchange program with the Chinese city of Xi’an.
Having gained valuable on-ground experience and tremendous encouragement through its success of the inaugural round, the SCA is positioning itself to hold the festival as an annual event. The purpose of this series will be two-fold, according to the SCA president Liming Liang. First, it provides a platform to promote cultural interaction and mutual respect among various communities within the town. Second, it grants the Chinese Americans born here and whoever interested a chance to dig deeper into a particular topic, prepare a demonstration, and deliver it effectively. A final note is that this series will be in tandem with other regularly-hosted event, most notably the Chinese New Year’s Gala held annually at the high school auditorium. The Gala has attracted ever-growing attention from many municipalities surrounding Sharon.