The fragrance of salt, pork and onions wafted into the halls and out the doors, luring students walking by the Clear Creek building inside.
The Community College of Denver invited Auraria students to celebrate the Chinese Food festival by cooking up traditional dishes Sept. 20. The event was the first of several festivities that kicked off the Confucius Institute’s 10th anniversary.
“We didn’t really know what we were walking into,” attendee Anahi Quinones said, “we just knew there would be food, and now we are learning to make something new.”
CCD students Quinones and Zary Nava heard of the event on the school’s social event calendar and showed up hungry. Although they had come to just eat, they stayed to learn more about the institute itself.
There are over 500 Confucius Institutes nationwide. The institute at CCD is the only one associated with a community college, rather than a university. The institute focuses on providing learning opportunities to students in hopes that they will gain cultural diversity and global awareness.
Director Jane Lim describes the institute as, “a non-profit educational organization hosted by the Community College of Denver to promote Chinese language learning and cultural understanding.”
Lim said opportunities to gain cultural diversity and global awareness are not exclusive to CCD students but everyone on campus.
Jen Liu, a volunteer at the institute, taught a group of four girls to properly roll dough for fresh scallion pancakes. She adds the scallion sauce to the center of the pancake and rolls the dough longways, then spins it into a cinnamon roll shape and lets the students flatten it with a roller before adding it to the pan.
“It could be round, or it could be a little triangle,” Liu said, “just as long as it’s flattened good.”
The students bite into their warm, fluffy, pancakes as they learn about services the institute offers to its students.
Yueyang Wang, or “Erin” as her classmates call her, is a student from China majoring in political science and sociology at the University of Colorado at Denver. She dedicates time every week at the institute. Wang got to teach fellow students at the Chinese Food Festival how to make fried dumplings and talked to them about her culture.
“I feel so proud that I’m Chinese,” Wang said. “I feel it is my duty to share my culture with others.”
Upcoming Confucius Institute events promise to feature Chinese cooking, performances, dancing and moon cakes.