Final banquet at SDUT
The final banquet felt entirely different and much more relaxed than the first one. I knew everyone present well including all of my group members and Qiao Qi, whom I call friends, my professors, and Dr. Niu Shutian, our host advisor.
Before the banquet commenced, we were presented with a Chinese fan with SDUT’s seal and the university’s slogan, which concerns striving for perfection and our grade report for the Shandong Culture — Ancient and Modern class.
Dr. (Jim) Pomfret and Dr. (Jing) Luo were also given an ornate, symmetrical Chinese paper-cutting with a multitude of designs along with the names of Bloomsburg University and SDUT followed by, “Long live the friendship.”
I found much solace in knowing that both universities have a mutual respect, outreach, and allegiance to one another and that so many outstanding people of all ages are associated with our “sister” university.
The rest of the meal proceeded with traditional dishes of the Shandong Province including Shandong Duck. The foods all seem so healthy consisting of vegetables and meat along with their according sauces.
There was even history presented along with certain foods such as the whole fish and the dumplings which are served near the end of the meal. Fish, which is pronounced “yui” in Chinese, has a double-meaning within the phrase, “nana yui,” which means the end of the year.
It is believed in Chinese culture that people are to save money toward the end of the year so that there would be enough at the beginning of the next. So the fish at the end of the banquet is a reminder to save money for the Chinese New Year.
The history of the dumpling dates back to when Chinese men had to leave their wives to obtain further education, work, or fighting in the army. Their wives would cook dumplings to bid their husbands farewell, because there would be plenty of time to cook in advance.
When their husbands returned, women would cook noodles because preparing dumplings is a much more tedious process than preparing noodles. Symbolism behind these foods also gives them more cultural value, now that I am aware of it.
The round shape of the dumpling symbolizes perfection, and the extensive length of the noodle symbolizes a lasting relationship between the husband and wife.
I find it interesting that the Chinese has such long tradition and symbolism behind their food, and I definitely better understand why the Chinese eat certain foods now that I have spent a month in China.
Another highlight of the banquet was talking to Dr. Shutian, and I mentioned to him that I am possibly interested in teaching English at SDUT after I graduate from BU. He was delighted to hear I was an English major, and said that he could definitely help me obtain a teaching job at SDUT if I so desired one.
After our conversation, I reflected on how I was pondering months ago that I could have possibly been better off studying English at a more urban university more geared towards the arts to better complement my personality, but I realized that I did indeed choose the right undergraduate university.
After all, if I was attending any other university, I wouldn’t have been sitting at the banquet table after experiencing the greatest adventure and learning experience in my twenty-one years; and the best part is, the adventure is not over yet.
I am ready to travel to Beijing and see what it has to offer me.
— Sarah Halter, a senior English major