By MARY TAN
AAP staff writer
BLOOMINGTON, Minn. (Aug. 28, 2011) — When you think of the Mall of America, you probably think of a gigantic mall full of shoppers, department stores, chain stores and fast food courts. But for the past two weeks you also got a bit of Chinese culture.
From August 20 to 28 Minnesota’s largest mall hosted an interactive event to showcase what a trip to China would be like. Each court space was decorated to represent authentic sites of that country.
At one court, Ting James Kong, a Tai Chi Chuan instructor, was performing his martial arts exercise in front of packed crowds. “It’s such an honor for me to be able to share Chinese culture with Americans. They are so nice and interested in learning what Tai Chi is all about,” said Kong with a bright smile.
Kong told his audience the benefits of Tai Chi. “It helps you reduce your stress, anxiety and it’s so good for your mind. It relaxes you which is a very good thing in this busy world,” Kong explained
Besides Tai Chi, there were also many other performances and demonstrations. Shoppers saw authentic Shaolin Kung-fu masters who demonstrated steel-breaking with their head. Moving Forbidden City was also a highlight of the Chinese showcase. It was a production designed to show fashion and images that represent the historic Forbidden City, which is a majestic imperial palace that once served as a ceremonial and political center for Chinese Emperors.
Other activities included Chinese paper cutting, a traditional tea ceremony, Chinese calligraphy and music performances with various types of Chinese musical instruments.
Doulas Killian, Director of Tourism for the Mall of America said being the host of the event was a good partnership. “China is a valuable international market for Mall of America. We are focused on bringing more Chinese to the Mall and helping the China National Tourism Administration attract more American travelers to China. Experience China is an excellent opportunity to develop Mall of America’s relationship with CNTA by attracting more than one million visitors to the event and showcasing China’s rich history and culture.”
Many of those who volunteered to work at the event were Chinese foreign students who are attending Minnesota colleges. Quichi Zhou is a student at Hamline University, who jumped at the chance to talk about her homeland.
“It’s awesome. I’m promoting Chinese culture and tourism. It’s fun to talk to people; lots of them told me they are planning to take a trip to China. My country is becoming a tourism destination for Americans and that’s so wonderful,” said Zhou.
Fellow volunteer Guilan Luadtke expressed similar statements. “Most Americans get their information about China through the media. This is a chance to let Minnesotans know in-person that we have tourism and resources. China welcomes them.”
Luadtke and other Chinese volunteers hope this could perhaps be an annual event at Minnesota’s most popular tourist destination. With the Chinese government now relaxing rules for foreign travel of their citizens, the students hope both the United States and China can increase tourism between the two nations.