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Auld Lang Syne -- to the Sister Relationship Between Shandong and South Australi

Popularity 1Viewed 2411 times 2017-12-1 18:03 |Personal category:Career|System category:Others

I received the cultural delegation from South Australia in the first half of this year, a pleasurable routine that has lasted for 3 consecutive years. This year’s event featured a painting exhibition “Sights and Impressions from South Australia”, which included 10 paintings from 5 visiting artists from South Australian Living Artists Association and dozens of works created by Shandong artists after they paid a visit to South Australia in September last year, a small discussion between cultural representatives from South Australia with their counterparts in shandong, and a sketching tour in Jinan and Mount Taishan. Not only an echo to Shandong artists’ visit to South Australia last year, it also pointed to a collaborative painting exhibition as part of Shandong Culture Week to be held in Adelaide, the capital city of South Australia, next year.

As a coordinator and interpreter for the cultural exchanges between Shandong and foreign countries since 2013, I have been fortunate to participate in a number of major events at home and abroad, but none of the partners have been as dedicated and passionate as our South Australian counterparts in incessantly exploring the potentials for cultural exchanges and collaboration between our two sides in depth and scope.

In September 2014, a Shandong cultural delegation consisting of more than 100 artists in diversifying forms landed in Adelaide to attend “Focusing on Shandong” of the 8th OzAsia Festival, an annual international arts festival hosted by Adelaide Festival Centre. Shandong artists wowed the local audiences with an acrobatics show Dream of a Ghost Story, dance drama Red Sorghum adapted from the namesake novel by the Nobel Prize winner Mo Yan, Exhibition of Farmer’s Painting from Rizhao, folk art workshops such as papercutting, woodblock new year pictures and so forth. The great success of “Focusing on Shandong” has displayed the vitality of traditional culture and the accomplishment of contemporary arts of Shandong in an unprecedented scale, and provided the local people close contacts with Shandong, its culture and people.

And the cultural exchanges go beyond showcase. After the signing of the MoU between the two sides in Jinan in May 2015, a program for personnel exchanges had been formally launched, in which 5 staff working across the cultural sector in Shandong would be selected by both sides and would be working at corresponding institutions in South Australia for 3-6 months. As of December 2016, all five candidates from Shandong Museum, Shandong Art Museum, Shandong Performing Arts Group and Shandong Library had successfully finished their session at Adelaide Festival Centre, the State Library of South Australia and Artlab Australia respectively, which not only helped them gain a more direct and profound insight into the local culture, but laid a solid foundation for more in-depth exchanges in the future.

As 2016 marked the 30th anniversary of the establishment of the sister relationship, South Australian Culture Week celebrating the 3-decade-long friendship was grandly openly in Jinan in April. Three musicians from Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, after having rehearsed with the Symphony Orchestra of Shandong Song & Dance Theatre, staged a concert at Lishan Theatre and was highly received by the local community. Meanwhile, a photography exhibition of South Australian landscape, movies about South Australian history and culture and so forth also enjoyed great popularity among our local people. In September, “Bridge”, a bronze sculpture jointly created by Shandong and South Australian sculptors was officially launched at the Consulate General of China in Adelaide and would be permanently exhibited there as a token for our relationship.

Shandong-South Australian cultural exchanges and I have a special bond. I was born in 1986, the same year when this relationship was established. I was lucky to have been selected for the 3-month internship at Adelaide Festival Centre in 2015 after a very hard time in 2014, and was even luckier to have received the cultural delegations from South Australia three times in a row. Over the years, I’ve met a lot of wonderful South Australian counterparts, Douglas, Vincent, Dominic, Andrew, Penny, Tom, to name just a few. They are kind, sincere, thoughts-provoking and above all, passionate about what they are dedicated to. And they have spared no efforts in encouraging me with “Seriously, Chen, you’re the best” or “No. 1 interpreter”. As a matter of fact, to meet the bunch of South Australian friends and see how they were doing over the past year has become an anticipation for me in April or May each year, and we even joked that we saw each other more frequently than most of our friends at home. While I’m turning 31 pretty soon, still feeling frustrated and doubting about myself in face of new situations from time and time, I’m pretty sure I’m gonna walk along this road and one reason is because of them. They have made this job more interesting and meaningful and myself happier and more fulfilled.

Finally I wish to express my gratitude for being able to be part of this special relationship with so many talented people involved, and to contribute my bit of share to its development. Together we have created an excellent model for the cultural exchanges between two province/ state that differ so much in size, population, history, culture, food, etc, and I believe together we are going to make more fruitful outcomes in the years to come.


(This piece was supposed to have finished last year in memory of the 30th anniversary, but due to one reason or another, I didn’t complete it until the very last day of 30. But better late than never, right? Now I feel so relieved. I don’t think words have fully expressed what I wanted to say, but to sum up, you are one of the reasons why I’m here today. Thank you. )

(Opinions of the writer in this blog don't represent those of China Daily.)




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Comment Comment (2 comments)

Reply Report Igo 2017-12-3 04:45
Very interesting. Keep going!
Reply Report 宁檬 2017-12-4 09:29
Igo: Very interesting. Keep going!
Thanks for all the encouragements. You too!

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