Eating mooncakes during the Mid-Autumn Festival has been a tradition in China for centuries. On Friday, September 13, UT’s Office of Asia Engagement hosted a mooncake-making session in collaboration with the Chinese Culture Club to celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival.
Similar to Thanksgiving in the United States, the Mid-Autumn Festival is a family reunion festival in the Chinese culture, distinguished lecturer in Chinese Dan Wade said. Also known as the Moon Festival, Mid-Autumn Festival marks the end of the summer harvest and is a celebration of thankfulness. The most popular food of the festival, mooncakes are more than a sweet treat. Mooncakes symbolize togetherness and are a profound cultural tradition.
Thirty-two students from the Chinese Culture Club, Project Pengyou, the Department of Modern Foreign Language Chinese Program and more gathered at the International House to celebrate Mid-Autumn Day while learning how to make mooncakes.
A guest instructor from Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Yuan Liu led the mooncake making process through step by step instructions. “It felt like I was in China being taught by a local instructor on how to make mooncakes for the Mid-Autumn Festival,” Chinese Culture Club president Sue Choi said.
Students worked in teams of four to prepare the dough. They mixed their own colors of dough and stamped it with various shapes. Each group was guided by a Chinese faculty who assisted in the mooncake making process. “Although some steps were challenging, thanks to the instructors and teachers, we were able to enjoy some traditional mooncakes made by our own hands,” Choi said.
In an effort to introduce Chinese culture and enrich the lives of students on campus, the Office of Asia Platform and Chinese Culture Club provided a warm welcome back to campus through the hands-on, mooncake making experience. “By experiencing it themselves firsthand . . . these kinds of events will leave a longer-lasting impression on [students],” Choi said.
The goal is to engage students and assist in developing a deep appreciation for cultural diversity. According to the Chinese Culture Club advisor Dan Wade, it is important for students to develop global awareness through learning about the traditions of other cultures. The mooncake making session is just the beginning of efforts to engage students in cultural learning on campus.