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BWB NEWS 03/19/2019

BWB Micro Grant: Harvesting Brotherhood Chinese Moon Festival

One of our 2018 Community Micro Grant recipients is Harvesting Brotherhood: Chinese Moon Festival in Torreon, Mexico

This festival was co-created by 2 project coordinators, 11 parents, 33 volunteers, 28 performers for over 650 event attendees. Their BWB Microgrant covered 90% of all expenses. The objective of the project was to promote Chinese-Mexican brotherhood and friendship between the Chinese immigrants and their Mexican hosts in “La Laguna” (a two-state region in the North of Mexico including the cities of Lerdo, Gomez Palacio and Torreon).

Project Leader Ana Carol Torres describes the project:

In the spirit of improving the perception and acceptance of Chinese immigrants in our city and celebrating Chinese culture, this project immersed the community of our school, Hermandad Educativa CAT, in the organization and celebration of the Chinese Mid-Autumn Moon Festival (Zhongqiu Jie).   

During four consecutive weeks, local children, youth and their families participated actively with the local Chinese community to organize a festival and become local ambassadors of Chinese culture. Each week, two groups (one of children and another of teens and adults) gathered after classes to learn about Chinese culture, and produce Chinese handcrafts and decorations to be showed-cased during our Mid-Autumn Moon Festival. While a brief recycling campaign was launched to collect some materials, the grant provided by BWB was essential to obtain stationary and other supplies to carry out these workshops.

Notwithstanding the floods that hit our city last rain season, on September 29 (the next Saturday after the official date), the Moon Festival was celebrated in our facilities. The festival included stands where participants learned how to use chopsticks, where they could ask to have their name written in Chinese, where they could make Chinese bracelets, read their Chinese horoscope and they could decorate their traditional moon cake.

A local group of Cantonese immigrants apologized for not being able to participate directly but donated traditional Chinese food for our guests, allowing us to use most of our budget in supplies to make and decorate moon cakes, printables (such as banners and posters) and other consumables for the stands. During the day, there were also constant exhibitions of traditional acupuncture and several members of the Chinese community participated in the elaboration of a picture mural of Chinese immigrants in our city.

Within the festival, we had two special conferences that allowed direct dialogue with first, second and third generation Chinese immigrants. First, the Vice-president of the North chapter of the Chinese Chamber of Commerce in Mexico gave a presentation on commercial incentives for Mexico-China internationalization. However, our most moving event was the round table “Dialogues of Chinese Immigration in the Lagoon Region” where members of the Chinese community shared their experiences or the experiences of their relatives when they migrated to this region of Mexico.

Once the sun set, all attention focused on a parade that was choreographed with our students and the help of a local martial arts (wushu) school, CIWF Torreón. The lion dance parade lead to our stage where we enjoyed until the late night a Qi Gong demonstration, a tea ceremony, music, a martial arts demonstration and the performance of a clown-storyteller who captured our audience with Moon-themed Chinese legends.

Out of the Ten Principles, we can highlight the exemplification of the following:
Radical Inclusion- This project was conceived under the principle that we should welcome and respect the stranger, regardless of how alien to our own culture and physical features s/he may seem. After this project, our students show greater respect for people who are different from them. So much so that a month after our project, we received a visit from foreign interns and our students were particularly friendly towards the Chinese delegates as they were better acquainted to this culture.

As for our festival participants, 60% reported that it was the first time they visited our facilities meaning that the project reached many people outside of our immediate community.

This project best demonstrated the following of the 10 Principles:

Gifting- Acts of giving came from every direction during the festival. From the outset, Burning Man’s grant allowed us to provide workshops and their supplies free of charge. In return, many people from our community and even outside it donated their valuable time, effort, and even, in the case of some immigrants who were unable to attend personally, food.

Communal Effort- Without the support of all our volunteers, it would have been impossible to carry out the festival. The efforts of 2 project coordinators, 11 parents, 33 volunteers, 28 performers from in and out our network allowed us to reach more people.

Leaving No Trace- While it was not part of the original plan, a two-week recycling campaign was organized in our community at the beginning of the project to reduce the amount of paper, cans, paper rolls and cardboard required for some of our crafts. We also made sure to purchase only biodegradable cups and plates for the tea, moon-cakes and food that we gave out.
We made sure to keep garbage cans accessible so everyone could dispose of their garbage adequately and each volunteer was responsible for checking their stations before leaving it.

Participation- Despite the fact that most of our audience was school-aged children, we believe it is important to begin opening their hearts to different realities and instilling values such as tolerance since an early age. The fact that all our participants were able to reproduce some form of Chinese cultural expression made it possible to turn each participant into an ambassador for Chinese culture.

Update: The local government contacted us some weeks ago and we are currently organizing with them another festival, this one within the frame of the Chinese New Year. Most of the same participants will be involved but we expect a larger audience as the local government is promoting the event.

To learn more about upcoming projects in Torreon, click here

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a participant practices using chopsticks with starburst candies
the event included martial arts demonstrations


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