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Ningbo teacher uses Chinese arts to reach foreign students

A Ningbo teacher is offering classes to foreigners to deepen their understanding of Chinese culture. But instead of textbooks and lectures, he’s relying on a new kind of a lesson plan based around brush strokes and peony blossoms.

Meet Jiang Hongsheng. He says he’s always loved classic Chinese calligraphy and painting. But recently he’s turned his passion into a full-time career. In 2012, he started this workshop to give foreigners free lessons in traditional Chinese arts.

“I think it’s a wonderful experience that everyone should get to know,” said a student.

“Two years ago, I taught a German student how to draw a peony blossom and he was so amazed. So I thought this might be a good way to promote our culture. China has taken a huge economic leap in recent years, and it’s time for our culture to go global,” Jiang said.

Here people can learn everything from the most basic skills, like how to moisten their brushes and blend the perfect color, to drawing a peony blossom, a symbol of wealth and happiness in Chinese culture.

“I always get very emotional when my students finish a piece. The peony not only blossoms on the paper but also blossoms in my heart,” Jiang said.

In addition to the weekly painting classes, Jiang Hongshen often takes his students on field trips to appreciate more Chinese traditional culture.

“We don’t understand the Chinese culture, but when we participate, we get to know it a lot more. We can play, we can enjoy ourselves, and I hope other people who listen to our playing, they also enjoy it,” said a student.

Every time Jiang has a student from a new country, he adds one peony sticker to this world map.

So far, Jiang has taught over 1,900 students from 91 countries. But for him, it’s just the start.