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Exploring China: A Cultural Journey in Malta

2024-05-29 11:27:00 Source:China Today Author:MARIA MONTEBELLO & ROSANNA MIFSUD
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At St Ignatius College Handaq Middle School, understanding and appreciation of different cultures is becoming a vibrant reality, owing to its collaboration with the China Cultural Centre in Malta.


Staff of the China Cultural Centre in Malta are organizing a traditional Chinese lantern making workshop for a group of visiting students from St Ignatius College Ħandaq Middle School on January 19, 2024. 

In today’s interconnected world, fostering understanding and appreciation of different cultures is paramount. At St Ignatius College Ħandaq Middle School, this ethos is not just a philosophy but a vibrant reality, thanks to an exciting collaboration with the China Cultural Centre in Malta.

The aim of this collaboration is clear: to provide students with a profound understanding of China and its rich cultural heritage. By doing so, the school seeks to broaden students' international vision, promote cross-cultural understanding, and cultivate an inclusive and open mindset.

Under the guidance of the school administration team, led by Director Yuan Yuan of the China Cultural Centre in Malta, a series of initiatives have been meticulously planned to achieve these goals. One highlight was the exchange of visits between the school and the China Cultural Centre. Maltese students had the invaluable opportunity to visit the China Cultural Centre in Valletta, where they were immersed in the essence of Chinese culture. From learning about Chinese cuisine and literature to trying traditional costumes and delving into the history of calligraphy, students experienced a journey unlike any other.

The China Cultural Centre also offered the school a mesmerizing performance by a Chinese choir from Shenzhen in celebration of the Chinese New Year in 2024. The school's foyer was transformed into a vibrant display of Chinese culture, adorned with lanterns and decorations, symbolizing the joyous occasion. The school was also presented with delightful dragon mascots, symbolizing strength, good luck, and prosperity.

The cultural exchange didn't stop there. The school's leadership team, actively participated in various events organized by the China Cultural Centre. From attending the Happy Chinese New Year concert at the University of Malta to experiencing the Chinese New Year Film Festival and Lantern Festival Concert, they embraced every opportunity to immerse themselves in the richness of Chinese culture.

A particularly memorable event was the launch of the exhibition showcasing the Chinese province Hainan's intangible cultural heritage. Additionally, we proudly participated in the inauguration of the China Pavilion at the Malta Biennale, further strengthening the bond between the two cultures.

As the collaboration between St Ignatius College Ħandaq Middle School and the China Cultural Centre continues to flourish, it serves as a shining example of the transformative power of cultural exchange. Through shared experiences and mutual respect, students are not only gaining knowledge but also cultivating empathy, tolerance, and global citizenship.

During her visit to the China Cultural Centre in Malta on January 19, 2024, Dr. Maria Montebello, head of St Ignatius College Ħandaq Middle School, tries on a set of traditional Chinese clothes called Hanfu.

During one of these occasions, Dr. Maria Montebello, the head of school, delivered a heartfelt speech welcoming the distinguished delegation from China, including Director Yuan Yuan and the talented Shenzhen Opera Choir. She expressed her gratitude for the enduring friendship between Malta and China, emphasizing the importance of cultural exchange in strengthening bonds between nations.

Dr. Montebello highlighted the significance of the Chinese New Year celebration as a time of renewal, hope, and new beginnings, and commended the choir for their contribution to the cultural exchange through music. She emphasized that the presence of the delegation from China symbolizes the bridges of friendship and understanding that have been built between the two nations.

She reiterated the commitment of St Ignatius College Ħandaq Middle School to fostering an environment of learning, cultural exchange, and friendship. Dr. Montebello emphasized that through education and understanding, we can build bridges that connect us, breaking geographical boundaries and fostering mutual respect and appreciation.

In an increasingly interconnected world, initiatives like these remind us of the beauty and diversity that exist beyond our own borders. As the students of St Ignatius College Ħandaq Middle School embark on this cultural journey, they are not just learning about China – they are forging connections that will last a lifetime.

On March 15, 2024 our school accepted the invitation of the Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to Malta Yu Dunhai to join the launching of the China Pavilion at Malta’s first art biennale, held at the Conference Hall of Fort St Elmo, Valletta. This Fort has been an important defender of civilization throughout history. Thus, historical heritage and contemporary concepts can still find each other today.

The China Pavilion presented the guests with the West Lake Series of paintings and etchings by Chinese artist Yan Shanchun. West Lake is a famous cultural attraction in Hangzhou, China. It hosts a long-lasting legacy that has evolved through history. It has experienced rounds of landscaping and artistic interventions and grown in beauty from the enrichment of its natural beauty and cultural achievement. West Lake gained popularity among a growing audience through various forms of art – poems, opera, novels, folklore and paintings.

The theme of the pavilion’s exhibition “Tracing” attempted to trace the exchanges between the civilizations from the East and the West during the past and explore the possibilities of cultural exchanges in the future.

Through his works, the artist Yan Shanchun manages to describe West Lake by integrating the materials and techniques from both Western frescoes and Chinese ink. The combination of the traditional Western print-making technique and the traditional Chinese album design offered the audience a unique experience that resembled the reading of painting in a Chinese cultural context. The materials used are commonly available for contemporary art practice.

While observing his works, visitors could see his experience as an individual and “trace” the art history. He presents a style that is clear, remote and classic. Yan’s West Lake anchors his spiritual pursuit on the subject matter but beyond its natural existence. It travels through the historical evolution and breaks the constraints of time and space, landing its essence back to the very nature of art.

The launching of the China Pavilion at MaltaBiennale.Art 2024, the paintings and works on view at Fort St Elmo presented the viewers with an excellent opportunity to search for the various possibilities to reconnect with historical sites and reconstruct cultural memories. This launch and exhibition definitely highlighted the cultural ties between China and Malta.  


MARIA MONTEBELLO is head of St Ignatius College Ħandaq Middle School; ROSANNA MIFSUD is the assistant head of the school.

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