Chinese culture through food lens on Auraria

Chinese food festival to kick off Confucius Institute’s 10th anniversary

The fragrance of salt, pork and onions wafted into the halls and out the doors, luring students walking by the Clear Creek building inside.


Jen Liu, a volunteer at the Community College of Denver’s Confucius Institute, shows students Raven Chavez and Anahi Quinones how to make fresh scallion pancakes. Photos by Emily Moyer

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.

UCD Student YueYang shows off a batch of pork dumplings before they go into the fryer. YueYang likes to share aspects of her culture, like cooking, with other students on campus.

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.[soliloquy id=”68633″]

Upcoming Events

Confucius Institute Day

Sept. 30. 3:30-8:00 p.m. at King Center Concert Hall

Mid-Autumn Festival

Oct. 5. 6:00 p.m. at St. Cajetan’s Center


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