Official Newsletter – September 2014
Reconstructing the culture, identity and characteristics of orient women
By Elizabeth Shang-guan Wei
The celebration of Godiva Sisters was held on 12th of September in Coventry city witnessing a perfect new interpretation of Chinese women through Mulan. The essence behind this important screen character was exhibited via singing and dancing, showing and reconstructing the cultural identity of orient women to the Western world.
Chinese Godiva Sisters consist of five outstanding women from different parts of Coventry city. Dressed flamboyantly in traditional costumes of the Han Dynasty, the group made a brilliant performance, recreating Han culture through the interpretation of the Mulan cabaret. This display essentially helps to eliminate subjective interpretations of Oriental women in the eyes of Westerners. The Coventry Godiva Sister Day is an annual event, held every September under the tutelage of the local council.
Due to historical and cultural barriers the Western media understands oriental women inaccurately. In their eyes the oriental woman is portrayed as vulnerable and weak. The “Three-inch golden lotus” signifies the external image and features relying on patriarchal dominance. This Vulnerability of forbearing groups was considered an inherent cultural identity that relies on males. It is these prejudices of interpretation that made career development extremely restricted for oriental women in the Western world causing tremendous obstacles in family life. Five outstanding women representatives of Mulan recreated this show to the world in order to eliminate the biased interpretation. The Mulan woman is an independent, brave and deeply ancient character who thrives to fight for individuality and equal rights for the feminine persona as a symbol of cultural identity.
Pru Porretta, the representative of Lady Godiva told Culturae Mundi that: ‘Modern Oriental women are as good as modern women’. They have excellent abilities to work, and are overly dedicated and selfless. The example of a Chinese lady in the UK who strives to learn and use a second language to develop a career is a perfect manifestation of Lady Godiva’s initial sacrifice for her city. Lady Godiva was the Lady Mayor of Coventry in 19th century Britain. Dissatisfied with her husband’s tax policies she bravely ridded naked around the city to protest her husband’s tyranny, which then won the people’s affirmation and love. The courage and spirit the Lady Godiva expressed perfectly coincides with Mulan, who replaced his father in the Chinese army to bravely face the enemy despite being a woman. In the prevailing era of feudal kings and kingdoms, she reshaped courage to challenge and reconstruct the Oriental culture and woman.
Xia Berrill, a Chinese Godiva Sister and Mulan’s representative who moved to England from Hong Kong ten years ago, has now become a successful woman in her field and a Chinese leader in the Chinese Godiva sister group. Her success also confirms the new features of modern Oriental women. Speaking to Culturae Mundi she said, ‘the flower dance performed today is the result of Mulan’s victory return. The modern dancing Mulan is the role model of Asian women. We aimed to utilise this feature to show the West that Oriental women are brave, independent, and successful’.
By Brenda Bonuke
The Coventry College Fresher’s fair started at a high note, on the 8th of Sep 2014, in the CUC cloisters at Armstrong Siddeley building from 9.30 am with students converging in large numbers. Different societies and organisations were present to showcase their goods and services with loads of freebies to give away.
The Culturae Mundi team, looking sharp in white polo shirts were the complete picture of enthusiasm while chatting up new students about the organisations numerous offers and opportunities. The team signed up many students on volunteering roles who were eager to be part of the cultural diversity. Culturae Mundi is all about cultural diversity and this is evident from the team that is made up of students hailing from different cultural backgrounds. Promoting cohesion at the University and the city as a whole is a big part of its goals.
Other organisations that were present include the Warwick Arts Centre providing unique student experiences that include offers for joining events for as low as £4.50 for cinema tickets, £6.50 for theatre, dance & music tickets while the entrance to their Mead Gallery is FREE; one can find out more about them on www.warwickartscentre.co.uk, Coventry University Sport and Recreation and the Student Accommodation can also be accessed on www.coventry.ac.uk/sport and www.libertyliving.co.uk respectively.
Coventry Health Services in partnership with Public Health were promoting the C-Card, which offers free condoms to people aged 13 – 25 when they sign up for it and it can be used in 160 venues around the city. Joanne Hatfield who was their representative at the venue was also showcasing cute little compact holders that ladies could use to carry their condoms without feeling embarrassed as one might assume. It was indeed refreshing to see students being encouraged to have fun responsibly.
Talking about having fun, the West Midlands Police were advocating on students’ safety when they go out during late hours through the B.E.S.T.M.A.T.E.S campaign that encouraged students to ensure they have a designated driver amongst them who should stay sober throughout and if they need to take a taxi they should make certain it has licence plates, check the drivers’ ID and try to pre – book taxis before going out. One can get more information about this campaign at www.bestmates.org
The stands were a good way to show students the many things that they can get access to as well as a fantastic gesture to welcome and make them feel comfortable in their new home during their study period.
From the Culturae Mundi team we are saying a big welcome to you and hope we get to see you at our events. All the best in your studies and do make the most of your time at Coventry University.
CULTURAE MUNDI – BRIDGING CULTURAL BOUNDS AT COVENTRY UNIVERSITY
By Elizabeth Guanwei Shang
National culture plays a fundamental role in sustaining the stabilization of society and social development. Respecting the diversity of national culture is regarded as a pre-condition for the prosperity of the world’s cultures. Culturae Mundi is the bridge to facilitate the flow of cultures among countries all over the world helping to bridge the communication gap between people from different cultural backgrounds. The orientation meeting of Culturae Mundi held in Coventry College in September 8, 2014 was meant for new students to understand the diversity of cultures and different countries under Culturae Mundi.
Hillary Chindodo, event manager of Culturae Mundi, said ‘Mundi is an organization launched at Coventry University, with the goal to bring cultures of the world together through events, music, dance, food and traditional celebrations. In order to improve the understanding of the cultures among the different countries and communication with each other, we always held a wide variety of activities. For example, last year we celebrated the Chinese New Year Festival, and this Friday we were busy at the Godiva Festival held at the city centre.
The orientation meeting of Culturae Mundi comprised of two sections, one of them provided a short introduction and background information, history and future development of Culturae Mundi, and another section invited new students to make applications for volunteering. Almost 150 new students in Coventry College filled in the application form and were willing to get further information about incoming cultural events or activities.
Paul Bell, a biology science student of Coventry College said, “I lived in many countries and could speak five languages. The unique cultural identity of each country provided a new angle to understand the world and solve its problems. It helped me to accumulate enriching experiences in study and life and paved the path for future successes. I am overly interested in different cultures. Culturae Mundi presented a great opportunity for us to connect with people from diverse cultures.
The orientation meeting of Culturae Mundi culminated in a lesson about Chinese characters. The Chinese members in Culturae Mundi instructed students to write their names using Chinese Characters. A lot of students expressed their love for Chinese Characters and picked up one or two Characters to copy. Bex Pardo, an engineering student of Coventry Collage, said “I was interested in Chinese culture, I like Chinese Kung fu and Li Xiao Long is my flavor movie star. I have gone to Shang Hai, and Hang Zhou last year. In the future I would spend more time to understand Chinese culture”. It’s a maze of cultural connections intensely bringing people together at Coventry university under the tutelage of an organization that is all about global cultures.
THE LADY GODIVA DAY PICTORIAL – CULTURAE MUNDI