Mid-Autumn Festival: A New Way to Celebrate for Chinese Students in Washington

For Chinese people, the full moon resembles reunion. Jmtimages’ photo via Getty Images, searched on Flickr under Creative Commons.

The Mid-Autumn Festival is one of the most important festivities in China, dating back more than 2,000 years. According to the Chinese lunar calendar, the 15th day of the eighth month is the exact midpoint of autumn, and the moon appears to be at its roundest and brightest, a symbol of family reunion. On that night, families in China usually gather together to eat moon cakes and appreciate the full moon.

But for Sheng Fei Yang, a Chinese student at American University who just came to the States in August, this year’s Mid-Autumn Festival is a little bit different. Not only because it’s the first time that she spent it without her parents, but because of an exceptional experience she had on that night.

George Washington University Chinese Culture Association and American University Chinese Students and Scholars Association this year co-organized a special dating game to help the single Chinese students in Washington get socialized and make friends.

“This kind of dating show is very popular in China. So I hope such an activity will attract a lot of Chinese students to attend,” said Chuan Ping, the president of AU’s association.

And he succeeded.

Hundreds of Chinese students from AU and GWU, as well as from Georgetown University, came to Betts Theater at GWU to enjoy this non-traditional celebration on Sept. 30.

Twelve single women from AU, GWU, and Georgetown U are waiting for the first male participant. Photo: GWU Chinese Culture Association.

Called “If You Are the One,” this dating game originates from a Chinese TV dating show with the same name. A pool of 12 single women watch each of the six male participants’ video about their lives and histories and asks questions about them. If interested, the young women can press a flashlight to determine which guy will stay on the stage and continue to be tested. In return, the six men will secretly choose their favorite woman before the game starts. Those who survive the trial in the end may have the chance to date her if she says yes to him.

As one of the 12, Yang dressed up and sat on the stage along with other female participants. With the flashlight on and off in hand, Yang examined each of the six bachelors, sometimes laughing at the jokes they made, sometimes applauding for the remarks they lobbied. Though the night only saw two “potential couples”, yet everyone was amused and enjoyed.

“I think the event is very interesting,” Yang said. “Though I didn’t find my ideal person, I made many friends. Also I think it’s a special experience in my life.”

Todd Morrill, a junior at GWU, was the only American participant of the game. He was also one of the two lucky guys who found his dream lady. Morrill said he never expected that.

Todd Morrill is introducing himself. Photo: GWU Chinese Culture Association.


“I guess I didn’t go there with high expectations. I wanted to go have fun… kind of connect to the Chinese community,” he said,  “But walking away with a girl was definitely a nice plus. It’s a lot of fun.”

Morrill has been learning Chinese for years and joined several Chinese culture activities. He thinks culture plays an important role in language learning.

“Chinese language is very different from American English. Every word has its history. Learning Chinese is more about the language itself, but the culture behind it. Like today’s dating game, though I didn’t completely understand what they say, I put myself into the context and tried my best to learn,” he said.

Seeing the dating show a success, Ping envisioned more events alike.

“Actually it’s our ambition to combine the three universities to provide a better service for Chinese students here in Washington,” he said.  “So this is just the first step, and we will have more activities to achieve our goal in the future.”


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