The Alsace branch of the Confucius Institute took part in a large open air exhibition in the French city of Strasbourg this weekend.
As the global Institute celebrates its 10th anniversary, the Alsace branch welcomed visitors as part of "La Rentree des Associations", an open air gathering of charitable, humanitarian, educational and cultural institutions.
A series of events were organised, including a tea ceremony, demonstrations of calligraphy, an introductory Chinese language course, and even a game based on using chopsticks.
The Alsace Institute was founded in 2008 following the twinning of the region of Alsace and Jiangsu province in 2007. It began offering educational and cultural programs at the end of 2009. Director Zhao Zonghong explained that the Chinese language courses, in particular, are becoming more and more popular with people living in this north eastern region of France. The branch has already been offering courses in other nearby cities, for example, Mulhouse, Obernai and Belfort.
Helping the Institute to run the stand this weekend was Alienor Laumont, a second-year student at Strasbourg University studying Chinese. She said she is greatly looking forward to using her knowledge of the language and she will soon leave to undertake a one year-study course in China.
Another voluntary helper, David Mergalet, has been studying Chinese with the Institute for four years. He travels regularly to China, touring the country independently and finds his ability to use the language invaluable.
"People in China are very welcoming anyway," he said, "but they also really appreciate it if people make an effort to speak the language."
Beside language lessons for all levels, the Alsace Institute runs workshops on calligraphy, Chinese painting, and paper cutting.
The stand attracted many visitors over the weekend, particularly young girls who wanted to dress in the elaborate and colourful traditional costumes.