News Releases

Chinese Spring Festival blooms at the St. Augustine Campus

For Release Upon Receipt - March 6, 2015

St. Augustine

ST. AUGUSTINE, Trinidad and Tobago –Last Friday, February 27, the Confucius Institute of The University of the West Indies (UWI) St. Augustine in collaboration with the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China hosted an Evening of Celebration, Chinese Spring Festival Celebration in commemoration of the observance of the Chinese New Year to a packed Daaga Auditorium.

The programme opened with a performance by the Chinese Arts and Culture Studies Society entitled “Dragon and Lion Dances” – a veritable showcase of synchronised acrobatic feats as duelling dancers brought a costumed dragon to life.  Aerial somersaults over stacked tables and chairs electrified the crowd and started the night on a literal high note.

Pro Vice-Chancellor and Campus Principal of The UWI St. Augustine, Professor Clement Sankat offered his remarks highlighting The UWI’s continued efforts to build a relationship with China and embrace Chinese culture through the work of the Confucius Institute.  He was followed by the translated remarks of the Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China, His Excellency Huang Xingyuan, whose charisma was clearly conveyed to the audience and would make a surprising reappearance towards the end of the night.

The Chinese Spring Festival Celebration continued with Trinbagonian flair through a steelpan performance of a traditional Chinese Folk song and a classical Chinese dance by a troupe from The UWI’s Department of Creative and Festival Arts. Throughout the night, the Masters of Ceremonies showed how close Trinidad and Tobago and China have become by rewarding the audience with prizes for their knowledge of Chinese cultural trivia.  Students of the Confucius Institute highlighted their proficiency in Mandarin via a reading of an essay by renowned Chinese writer Zhu Ziqing named “Spring.”

Two of the night’s most unforgettable performances occurred spontaneously when the special guest performers were revealed. Ambassador of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago to the People’s Republic of China, His Excellency Chandradath Singh and his son, Sharan Singh, Director of The UWI’s Office of Institutional Advancement and Internationalisation performed an instrumental duet of steelpan and cajón – a six sided, box-shaped percussion instrument respectively. 

The last performance of the night was a surprise solo rendition of a patriotic song called “My Chinese Heart” by Ambassador Huang that ended in a standing ovation from a very appreciative audience.

The Evening of Celebration of ‘chūnjié,’ attracted Chinese cultural enthusiasts ranging from children to the young at heart. Outside the Auditorium patrons lined up to buy assorted traditional Chinese New Year foods.



About the Chinese Spring Festival Lunar New Year Celebration

For almost 5,000 years, the people of China have celebrated the beginning of the calendar year with a festival. The Lunar New Year was welcomed by countries throughout Asia on February 19 and 2015 was declared as the year of the goat/sheep. The Chinese New Year is one of the most important celebrations in the Chinese calendar.

About The Confucius Institute

The Confucius Institute at The UWI St. Augustine is a centre for Mandarin Chinese language teaching and the promotion of Chinese culture. It is operated in partnership with China Agricultural University (CAU) and the Office of Chinese Language Council International (Hanban).

The CI at The UWI St. Augustine is unique in that it is the product of an agreement between the governments of the People’s Republic of China and Trinidad and Tobago. Officially established on October 23rd 2013, it is the first institute of its kind in Trinidad and Tobago, and the second in the Caribbean region. Its goal is to encourage and strengthen cultural exchange and co-operation between China and Trinidad and Tobago, and to provide educational resources for learners of the Chinese language. 

About The UWI

Since its inception in 1948, The University of the West Indies (UWI) has evolved from a fledgling college in Jamaica with 33 students to a full-fledged, regional University with well over 40,000 students. Today, UWI is the largest, most longstanding higher education provider in the Commonwealth Caribbean, with four campuses in Barbados, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, and the Open Campus. The UWI has faculty and students from more than 40 countries and collaborative links with 160 universities globally; it offers undergraduate and postgraduate degree options in Food & Agriculture, Engineering, Humanities & Education, Law, Medical Sciences, Science and Technology and Social Sciences. UWI’s seven priority focal areas are linked closely to the priorities identified by CARICOM and take into account such over-arching areas of concern to the region as environmental issues, health and wellness, gender equity and the critical importance of innovation. Website:

(Please note that the proper name of the university is The University of the West Indies, inclusive of the “The”, hence The UWI.)