Dhirana 2017

Post by Alicia Dawdani

Dhirana is the University of Pittsburgh’s Indian classical dance competition, which was created by our very own classical dance team Pitt Nrityamala in conjunction with the University of Pittsburgh. Dhirana aims to foster community interest in the Indian classical arts by having collegiate classical dance teams from all over the nation showcase their talents while also working to benefit our community simultaneously. All of the ticket sales are donated to Birmingham Free Clinic of Pittsburgh, which provides free medical care to Pittsburgh’s undeserved population. Dhirana was able to donate $14,501 to the Birmingham Free Clinic this year and over $53,000 in its 5 year history, which is truly an amazing feat. Dhirana hopes to continue to increase their yearly donations to help the clinic provide more extensive care for those in need.

How to Asia: Brush Calligraphy

Post by Kyle Adkin, Undergraduate Advisory Council Secretary

There’s a hustle and bustle about Pitt’s campus as students headed to their classes on an unseasonably warm February afternoon. Being Wednesday, the middle of the work week, students and commuting employees littered Fifth Avenue like Heineken bottles in South Oakland lawns on a Sunday morning. Tucked away in Posvar Hall four stories above, a woman is carefully setting up bundles of rice paper, black bottles of ink and refreshments, the Asian Studies Center’s Chinese Brush Calligraphy comes to life.

Bliss Hou, a graduate student at the University of Pittsburgh Center for International Studies, is a first generation Chinese American stellar with the brush. Hou has been around calligraphy her whole life. She has attended clubs and activities and now hosts her own calligraphy classes.

Today, she is offering an introductory lesson to university students attending the Asian Studies Center’s How To series–a semester long project to share a variety of aspects of Asian culture, including other topics such as dress and dance.

The program begins with a discussion of the history of Chinese characters, tracing their pictographic roots through dynastic modifications into present day stylization. After an introduction to the history of calligraphy, Hou taught the four main strokes from which attendees and I would be able to build our own characters.

I’ve always had an interest in calligraphy. I’ve learned a lot about the history when I was in Taiwan this last summer. I visited the National Palace Museum in August which had a calligraphy exhibit which had centuries-old pieces pulled from mainland China. A lot of what I saw were pieces which were brought to Taiwan during the flight of the Guomindang.

While working with Hou, I learned a lot about the physical motions of calligraphy. She was a hands on instructor who I could tell had a passion for calligraphy that she wanted to share with everybody.

At the end of the lesson, we were told to write our own characters and share them with others. I decided to write 五十步笑百步 , a saying from Mencius meaning, “To use fifty steps to laugh at one hundred steps.” Overall, meeting Hou and learning more about calligraphy is something I want to branch out and try more.

Club Connection: Daehwa Korean Conversation Club

Post by Elise Antel, Undergraduate Student Ambassador

Daehwa Korean Conversation Club was founded in 2014 by 2nd Year Korean student De’Aira Anderson, who was looking for a way to practice her speaking skills outside of the classroom. Due to the growing size of the Korean language classes, opportunities for one-on-one conversation practice were becoming more difficult to come by.  De’Aira was joined by fellow Korean language learners Elise Antel and Reed Armstrong to create the organization, under the guidance of advisor and Korean Department head Mi-Hyun Kim.

Since then, the number of members has increased dramatically as more and more students at Pitt develop interest in the Korean language. The main goal of Daehwa is to support the efforts of the Korean Language Department to nurture interest in the Korean language, while creating a welcoming environment for all levels of Korean speakers to come and practice their conversational skills while learning about Korean culture. Most importantly, the club aims to create a community where native Korean speakers and Korean language learners can socialize and connect in a valuable way.

In order to accomplish this goal, Daehwa hosts two weekly conversation hours and monthly cultural events. Most recently, the club organized a celebration of the Korean Lunar New Year (설날) and hosted students and faculty for a night of traditional Korean games, calligraphy, crafts, and food. Attendees also had an opportunity to try on traditional Korean clothing, called hanbok (한복).

Daehwa will be hosting more cultural events before the end of the Spring 2017 Semester, and all are encouraged to join the remaining conversation hours on Wednesdays at 6:30pm and Fridays at 4:30pm on the Ground Floor of Hillman Library.

More information about the club can be found on their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1576191495930897/