Children dressed in traditional attire during the celebrations at Dubai International Academy on Friday. Image Credit: Maria Botros/Gulf News

Dubai: Chinese International Children’s Day, which falls on June 1, was celebrated by members of the Chinese community in the UAE, with traditional music, dance and cuisine setting the mood.

The Chinese Learning Centre (CLC) organised an event titled ‘Where is my hometown’ to mark the occasion. The event, which was held at the Dubai International Academy on Friday, brought together people from the Chinese community and those of different ethnicities to explore the culture of China.

Hui Fang, administrator of the Chinese Learning Centre, explained that the event is one of the most important festivals in China because children are cherished in all Chinese families. “Due to the one-child policy, Chinese families really value their children, therefore, we make an effort to celebrate that and give children abroad, specifically here in Dubai, a sense of what this celebration is about,” she said.

Lucy Chuang, founder of CLC, explained that educating children about their culture and homeland is necessary for them to understand their heritage better. Stalls at the event showcased products and cuisine from different parts of China.

“More and more people move to Dubai with their children, so we want to give them a bit of home here,” she said.

Dan Dan Wang, a Chinese mother of two, expressed her appreciation for the CLC and events like the one it had organised that helped her children learn more about their culture.

“My eldest is enrolled in the Chinese Learning Centre and I couldn’t be happier because they teach him the language and the culture,” said Dan Dan. “He can fully understand and speak, but his reading and writing is weak and the centre is the reason he is improving.”

Learning about Chinese culture apart, she said, her son is required to complete a weekly assignment that has helped him stay disciplined.

Attending the event were Hessa Sultan Al Suboosi and Mariam Rashid Bin Al Shaikh, who are also enrolled in the centre and are currently learning Mandarin. The Emirati girls were invited up on stage to introduce themselves and speak before the audience in Mandarin.

“We have been learning the language for two months now and we are definitely planning on continuing,” said Hessa. “I believe it’s a language for the future, especially given that the Chinese economy is booming,” she added.

Hessa said Chinese is one of the most dynamic languages and sought to highlight the ease with which it can be absorbed once the learner is familiar with the principles. “There are four different tones for the same word in Mandarin, so if you get the tone wrong, you can change the meaning completely,” she said.

Mariam said that learning the language is the key to understanding the culture of any country. She said she was motivated to learn Mandarin given the fact that around 1.8 billion people speak the language. “In addition to the different tones, people look at the characters used in writing and think it’s very difficult, but in reality when you understand the meaning behind the composition of a word, it’s easier than you think,” she said.

Mariam added that speaking Mandarin fluently is one of her big aspirations since she wishes to represent the UAE internationally one day and to use the language to the country’s benefit.

— Maria Botros is a trainee at Gulf News.