Little Lantern Launch Party February 2017: A Little Source of Light for Hua-Chinese Children
On February 25, 2017, I was invited to the launch of Little Lantern, a magazine whose target audience is Hua-Chinese youth. The magazine features poems, games, art done by students from various high schools.
The launch party was held at the Central Library in Downtown Vancouver where there were a lot of parents who brought their children along.
When I came in, I was handed a slip of paper and was told that if I completed three games, I would get a prize.
So, off I went.
At the event, there were several booths set up around the room where student volunteers presided over tables with different games. There were charades, find-the-differences game, geometry-shape games, puzzles, and more.
The games were targeted at a younger audience and I was one of the older participants. Nonetheless, I found myself enjoying the games. To my surprise, the games weren't as easy as I thought they would be: there was one game where I had to rearrange some pictures back into a story. This was made more challenging when I realized that there were no words accompanying the images; not like it would help since my knowledge of the Chinese language was pretty sparse.
The other kids at the booths, however, seemed to enjoy playing them. There were some shy ones who hovered tentatively at the booths but the volunteers' enthusiasm was contagious and they were soon drawn in. I couldn't help but laugh as I watched a girl try to do charades with her father and her father trying, and failing, to understand the actions she was gesticulating.
I participated in a few other games and the word puzzles were relatively easy except for one that stumped me:
Later on, we were all asked to sit down and listen as two student presenters came up to the podium and explained what Little Lantern was and how it came to be. The interesting thing is that the students were trilingual: they spoke in Mandarin, Cantonese and English, making it easy for everyone to understand.
They also invited two students who participated in the making of the magazine. The students described their experience and spoke about what it was like working with other youths and how exciting the process was.
Earlier during the event, I spoke with Yu-Han Chen who is the founder of Little Lantern about her goals for the magazine: encouraging youths to be artists. The magazine would act as the outlet for the youth to express their creativity in a safe environment.
And what she said truly struck me. As a Chinese-Canadian, I was always pushed by my parents to study science or business because that was a stable career. Instead, I chose to major in English Literature where I was often asked at family dinners: "What can you even do with that degree?" It always filled me with shame whenever I spoke about what I was studying at school so much so that I mumbled and trailed off whenever I was asked.
However, hearing about Chen's passion for the arts and how determined she was to give youths the chance to be proud of their creative work was inspiring.
I felt a spark of envy as I watched the volunteers interact with the kids at the event. I couldn't help but recall my own high school days. Sure, we had some arts courses like drama, music and writing but those were in-class activities. And my schedule, with all of my core courses, never allowed me room to include more than two electives. My school never actively encouraged students to pursue the arts, focusing on athletics and sciences - I felt stifled and constricted by my home and educational environment.
Attending the launch party made me wonder: if this opportunity was available to me when I was younger, what would have changed? Would I be more confident in myself? Would I be able to tell my parents that I was going to go into the faculty of arts without a hint of humiliation?
Little Lantern acts as a source of hope for youths who, like me, may have or have had doubts about being in the arts. The magazine encourages them to never be afraid and to never feel ashamed for being creative.
You can visit the website here for more information: Little Lantern
The next launch party is on June 3, 2017 at the Central Library from 1-3 pm.