The Collegian
Thursday, September 21, 2023

ChinaFest: Celebrating Knowledge and Culture

<p>Graphic design courtesy of The ROSE Group.&nbsp;</p>

Graphic design courtesy of The ROSE Group. 

The University of Richmond and the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA) partnered with The Rose Group for Cross-Cultural Understanding to host this year’s ChinaFest, an annual Richmond city and UR tradition, from Feb. 2 to 5. 

This year’s programming included the annual Irby B. Brown lecture, three movie screenings and a hometown project led by a student.

Rose Chen, the creator of The Rose Group for Cross-Cultural Understanding, spoke on the history of ChinaFest and her visions when initiating events geared towards highlighting the Chinese culture in the Richmond city and beyond.

“I sensed how deeply rooted some of the misconceptions about China were,” Chen said.  “Growing up in Taiwan and then relocating to the US, most people around me saw China in a bad light. I realized I want to change this. China is a country full of culture and wonderful people. That’s why we started ChinaFest, to give people exposure to share their culture with the outside world.”

This year, the ChinaFest started with the annual Irby B. Brown lecture that was led by Handal Lee, the senior partner and a member of the International Management Committee of King & Wood Mallesons, according to the UR International Education website

“One of the main purposes of ChinaFest is how students from China lead projects and share their cultures with their community”, Chen said.

This year, the student-led projects included the ChinaFest Film Weekend and The Hometowns Project. 

The three films that were part of the film feature were The Wandering Earth, Ne Zha and The Captain with the introduction and discussions led by sophomore Tim Wen, sophomore Zhiang Fan and first-year Zae Will respectively. 

“The discussion I led was for a science fiction movie that I highly recommend people to watch,” Wen, facilitator of the film The Wandering Earth, said. “It is one of the first Chinese science fiction movies that consists of Chinese values and has been made from a Chinese perspective.” 

Wen mentioned that it was touching to see one person from the audience of the movie screening cry at the end of the film. 

“It was nice to talk to someone from the audience who had never seen the movie before and hear how they thought the movie was touching and well-made,” he said.

In addition to the Film Weekend, The Hometowns Project was another student-led project of this year’s ChinaFest. For the project, first-year Maggie Song, with advice from Chen, made a video highlighting her hometown, Changchun, which is in the Jilin province of northeast China. 

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“My hometown is very unique, given that it is in the northeast part of China and it is covered with snow half of the year,” Song said. “I think it is a special place that more people should know about. So, when I got the opportunity to record a video about my hometown, it was absolutely perfect.”

Song said her economics professor told her that he had watched her Hometown Project video. Song was surprised to see people on campus knowing about the project and ChinaFest. 

Students expressed their appreciation for the ChinaFest and how it is helping educate the campus community about Chinese culture. 

“In the end, ChinaFest is all about highlighting the good parts of our culture to people of the outside world,” Chen said. “UR has been great in partnering with us to appreciate this culture and moving forward, we hope to make these arrangements for ChinaFest as consistent and engaging as it was this year”.

Contact international editor Ahona Anjum at

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