One Belt One Road: The Pursuit of Poetry, and the Spirit of the Age Preserved in the Tea Leaves. 

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By Yubin Zhang, Joscelin Viviani,JordanSullivan| Updated: 2017-06-07

Zhejiang University Undergraduates Compete in National Poetry Recitation Contest

On June 2nd, the Sixth National Chinese Poetry Recitation Competition for International Students, themed, "One Belt One Road to Realize My Dreams", was held in South China University of Technology.

The original poem, specially selected by the International College, titled "Poetry and Literature: the Spirit of the Age Preserved in the Tea Leaves" won the third-prize.

The "One Belt One Road" Poetry Recitation Competition was organized by the Chinese Scholarship Council, and hosted by South China University of Technology. Participants of this activity included over 20 experts and scholars, and over 50 students from several top universities throughoutChina, including Fudan University, Wuhan University, Tongji University, Zhejiang University, and fifteen others.

The program was selected by the International  College, under guidance of teachers. The program was recited by five contestants mostly consisting of Chinese Government Scholarship students coming from country lines along the One Belt One Road region, and the poem was written by Malaysian student, He Xianglin. The works are designed artistically, and this includes other stage props: a fusion of guqin, calligraphy, and tea and other elements of tea culture. Through the students perspective, The Spirit of the Age Preserved in the Tea Leaves, would be told to all, along the route of One Belt One Road.

Now for a recap of the wonderful competition:

As the performance began, the students brought out a long table and arranged a whirlwind harp, swing sets, ink and incense, a screen showing tea mist on a green chariot, and other atmospheric props, creating an atmosphere where there seemed to be an interval of several generations between the stage and the audience. The introduction of "Dancing  Green Forest" followed, reciting their poem as they played the GuQin.

During the recital, AL-SHARREANI, an international student fromYemen, walked onto the stage with confidence, taking time to recite his poem with carefully expressed movements and pauses, honoring the art of Confucianism and Buddhism with perfect composure.

ENKHTUVSHIN OYUNDARI read the poem with emotion and grace, delivering words with the gentleness of a light breeze. She painted a vivid image that would linger for several moments in the minds of all those in attendance.

During the tea festival, two Mongolian students, MUNKHDALAI ARIUN and PEREVDORJ SONINBAYAR, made use of the famous Longjing tea, as a symbol of West Lake, performing the ceremony with the four virtues "Harmony", "Respect", "Beauty" and "Sincerity." Every action was a gesture of precision, elegance and neatness. At the same time, NYAMSUREN KHALIUNAA was producing a well-written, short and elegant piece of calligraphy.

As the GuQin played along in the background, the tea brewed, giving off its signature Hangzhou fragrance, while soulful poetry also lingered alongside in the air, in an evening of international friends and refreshments signature to various regions.

"The Spirit of the Age Preserved in the Tea Leaves," served as a synthesis of art, literature and culture, which managed to showcase lifes deep meaning, beautifully dressed up in an elegant costume. The program was designed in such a way that it layered various emotions successively and brought them all together during the centerpiece of the show, The Tea Ceremony, where the fragrance emanating from the leaves offered up a story of talent, rhythm and charm.

Throughout the process of preparing for the competition, it was understood that various teachers were responsible for guiding the students, and for enlightening the scripts with culture, and with a passion that would breath original life into these old words. The teachers also provided individual guidance, assisting the students in fine-tuning their pronunciation, and improving the quality of their recitation.

Participants came away from the event a sense of appreciation, feeling that the experience was a rare and special opportunity for learning about Chinese language and culture. AL-SHARREANI fromYemensaid that the experience allowed him, both in the preparation and performance, to become more aware of the charm of traditional culture, and that he felt more in touch withChinas traditional art forms.

"People who search inward become more awake" said ENKHTUVSHIN OYUNDARI of Mongolia, who summed up her experience in suiting poetic fashion,  "We gained a lot: through teamwork, awareness; through tea, hospitality; through people, writing and poetry."