by Mahmoud Fouly
CAIRO, Sept. 22 (Xinhua) -- The Chinese Bridge Club in Cairo hosted dozens of Egyptian students studying Chinese language in a hall on a cruise boat by the Nile River, where Chinese and Egyptians celebrated together China's Mid-Autumn Festival.
At the hall decorated with Chinese-style red lanterns and banners, a joyful ceremony was held on Tuesday, featuring various activities including group singing, contesting and eating Chinese traditional mooncakes.
The ceremony was started with a video displayed on a monitor showing a brief introduction on the history of the Mid-Autumn Festival and the related Chinese traditions, and how it is celebrated with family gathering and mooncake eating in China.
Being an ancient Chinese tradition, the Mid-Autumn Festival is celebrated on the 15th day of the eighth month on the Chinese lunar calendar, when the moon is fullest and brightest. It falls this year on Sept. 21.
Gianna Xu, head of the newly opened Chinese Bridge Club in Cairo, said that the event was held "to help these students continue to understand more about the Chinese festivals, culture and language," noting that the Mid-Autumn Festival is also referred to as "the Mooncake Festival."
She added that Chinese Bridge Club in Cairo has so far about 2,500 members including Chinese-speaking graduates of universities in Egypt, describing the club as "a bridge to connect China and Egypt."
"We hope we will be more connected in the future, strengthen Chinese-Egyptian friendship and boost economic and cultural exchange between China and Egypt," the Chinese lady told Xinhua.
Smiles and laughters overwhelmed the place when a general knowledge contest began, as the Chinese presenter asked questions in Chinese and Egyptian students raised their hands to answer. Those who got it right were awarded symbolic souvenirs by the Chinese language club.
"As a student, it's useful to attend such Chinese events, take part in these contests, get to know more Chinese people, practice the language with them and learn more about the Chinese culture, like today's Mid-Autumn Festival celebration," said Loay Adel, a junior student of Chinese language at the Faculty of Arts, Cairo University.
"I came also to learn about the Chinese traditions, for understanding the Chinese culture will help me with my study and communication with Chinese people," the young man added.
Following the contests, another video clip was displayed on the monitor to show a recipe of how to make a Chinese mooncake, then the celebration was concluded with a Chinese song performed by a group of Egyptian students.
Aseel Ahmed, a senior student of Chinese language at the Faculty of Languages, Cairo-based Ain Shams University, said that she chose to take part in organizing the event with Chinese Bridge Club for it contributes to bringing the Egyptian and Chinese cultures closer.
"I love languages in general. But when I entered university, I liked to study Chinese because of the growing relations between Egypt and China, including economic and tourism relations, in addition to the similarity between the Egyptian and the Chinese cultures," the senior student told Xinhua.
Finally, the Chinese staff of the language club and their Egyptian guests took group photos together, holding a Chinese banner reading, "Learning Chinese is a bridge for Egyptian-Chinese communication, friendship."
Israa Abdel-Sayed, director of Confucius Institute at Ain Shams University, expressed her admiration of the way the Chinese people revere their festivals, traditions and cultural heritage, urging Egyptian young people to cherish their culture and civilization.
"Part of the Egyptian-Chinese cooperation is all these young people present here, for each of them will lay a brick in the bridge of cooperation between Egypt and China," the Egyptian professor told the attendees.