Honors College students share Chinese culture

Colorful and rich, China’s culture has fascinated many for centuries, and today, students from USF’s Honors College will honor the country’s many facets with performance and dance. 

The sixth annual Chinese Culture Festival will be held in the Oval Theater and second floor atrium of the Marshall Student Center (MSC). Members of Philip Bishop’s Taiwanese and Chinese Geo Perspectives class have been raising money and acquiring sponsors for three months leading up to the festival. 

International relations major and Chinese Culture Festival organizer Kevin L’Herrou said the festival is going to be full of engaging activities that anyone can enjoy. 

“We are going to have lots of performances and booths where people can go to learn different skills,” L’Herrou said. “Maybe you’re interested in doing calligraphy — writing Chinese character — you can go to a booth and learn some basic calligraphy skills. Maybe you’re interested in Chinese games, we’ll have a booth with Chinese games that you can try out and play.”

Engineering major Jonathan Coppola is in charge of advertising for the festival and wants to enliven the often-outdated feel. 

“With our booths, we are focusing on not necessarily the decorations being modern, but mostly the information we’re giving out: it’s not just the traditional style it’s not just the old culture,” Coppola said. “That old culture is still alive but it transcends into the modern culture as well.”

Bishop has sponsored the student-run festival for six years, and for many students, this was their biggest challenge to date. 

“He literally calls his class ‘The Crucible.’ He throws information on Buddhism, Daoism, history, everything at you. And we’re all learning this while trying to organize this festival as well,” Coppola said. “So if you care about the class, you’re immersing yourself into this culture, and I think that is one of the driving factors behind him wanting to do this.”

Coppola said Bishop wants students to leave his class with a well-rounded wealth of knowledge. 

“He wants to be able to say, ‘My students not only grasp what this culture is about and where it comes from, but they are able to tell you and show you,’” Coppola said. “A lot of our booths are not only our sponsors and some of our professors, but we have to do an undergraduate research project in the class and some of these booths are actually these people’s presentations which he actually deems worthy enough to be presented.”

Despite organizers like L’Herrou being familiar with event planning and fundraising, the festival has some very intimidating history to live up to. 

“It’s intense. I actually did a lot of festival stuff back in my hometown, but this is definitely a lot more of a commitment than I ever thought it would be,” L’Herrou said. “Last year, it was USF’s second biggest event in the MSC, and the year before was the same, so we’re looking at the same number of people and it’s a lot of work putting on an event this big.” 

Along with pingpong tournaments and palm reading, the festival will not only consist of booths and information but also free food and  tea, as well as live performances put on by students from the class. 

“Food will be provided by Fushia Asian Bistro and the tea will be provided by Naga Tea, so both of those are some of my favorite places and I think most people would agree with me on that one,” L’Herrou said.

In order for students to enjoy the free food, they must visit five booths. Coppola said the goal is for those booths to be fun and interactive; he doesn’t want to bore people, rather have fun and play games with them. 

“Even though we are trying to educate, our booths are not just someone standing there talking to you,” he said. “A lot of them are very interactive because we wanted it to be really immersive.”

On the list of performances Coppola is most excited to watch are the dragon dance and the fan dance.

“I’m excited to see how well our members do the dragon dance, that’s something that has always interested me,” Coppola said. “Unfortunately I don’t have enough time this semester to be a part of it, but to see them be able to learn it as quick as they have to and put it on is going to be great.”

Most of all, Coppola is excited to see his semester of work bring
others joy. 

“I think we’re also really excited to see, once it comes together, how much our hard work has come to fruition. We were told the first day of class this is what we’re doing and some of us didn’t even know that’s what we signed up for,” he said. “We only had about three months, so for a group of 40 students to be able to put this on and attract over 1,000 people even with it being some of our first years here, will be

L’Herrou said the main goal of the festival is to inform people in a way that will stick with them. 

“I think the main goal of this festival is education,” he said. “Dr. Bishop’s goal, even though he wants a big, successful festival, is that he also wants a fair balance. He wants a lot of American students who might not even have an interest in China to just come out and check it out; he really thinks that the festival is a success if people learn something from it.”

The festival will be held from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. in the MSC.