With Chinese New Year ornaments like red lanterns, and Haft-Sin table, a tradition of Iranian New Year Nowruz, mixed to decorate the same podium, Iranian youngsters on Wednesday shared their thoughts on the similarities between Nowruz and Spring Festival.
Twelve contestants from three prestigious Iranian universities — University of Tehran (UT), Shahid Beheshti University (SBU), and Allameh Tabataba’i University (ATU) — attended the first Chinese speech competition for Iranian college students.
The speakers found many in common in the New Year cultures of the two different countries from diverse perspectives. In both countries, people will clean their houses before festivals and greet relatives and friends on the first days of the New Year. Every New Year, the elders will give the younger generation lucky money. Also, there must be fish on the New Year’s table of the two countries.
Similarly, Iranians jump over fires at the end of the old year and the beginning of the new year, and the Chinese set off firecrackers, showing their joint hope for good fortune in the new year through the fire, they added.
“Both nations value reunion and family,” Faeze Mirzabe, a UT student, noted, referring to the two countries’ similar spiritual pursuit when celebrating the New Year.
Li Mei, the Chinese director of the UT Confucius Institute, who served as one of the judges of the competition, said the contestants carefully prepared both speech skills and speech content.
“Their speeches not only cover the resemblance in festive customs, but also the resemblance in value orientation, showing their deep understanding of Chinese culture,” Li added.
Fu Lihua, charge d ‘Affaires of the Chinese Embassy in Iran, said at the award ceremony that cooperation starts with mutual understanding, and language plays the role of the carrier of culture and the key to mutual understanding.
Fu said she looks forward to more Iranian young students learning Chinese, understanding the real China through their eyes and hearts, and contributing to friendly exchanges between the two sides and the development of bilateral ties.
Farhad Javanbakht Kheirabadi, a China scholar at SBU, which hosted the contest, said the competition focused on the cultural similarities between Iran and China and helped bolster public diplomacy.
The competition will not only motivate Chinese language majors in Iran, but also prepare for more such activities in the future and deepen cultural ties between the two countries, he said.
Arezoo Sheikhi, a player from ATU, won the first prize and hugged excitedly her family and friends after accepting her award.
“My major is the Chinese language because I want to work in the field of communication between these two countries in the future,” Sheikhi said, adding that “I would like to go to China so that I can contribute to the long-standing relationship between these two countries.”
Talking about the reason for Sheikhi’s impressive performances, her teacher Sara Almasieh said the teachers usually introduce Chinese customs during important Chinese festivals and organize lectures on Chinese culture every year to guide students to think about the similarities between the two civilizations. ■