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"Chinese Dinosaur Exhibition” Successfully Held

The opening ceremony of "Chinese Dinosaur Exhibition” (Chinasaurs) was held in the afternoon on June 1, 2012. Hundreds of admiring spectators were ushered into the bright and spacious hall of the Sam Noble Museum of Natural History (SNMNH) at the University of Oklahoma (OU). They were highly interested in watching a variety of Chinese cultural performances, and were very pleased with the exhibit.

Possessing the world's largest dinosaur fossil, the SNMNHis one of the most famous museums of natural history in Oklahoma and all of the US. The museum decided to hold the "Chinese Dinosaur Exhibition" between June and September. They discussed it with the Confucius Institute at OU (OUCI) and suggested that the OUCI hold a variety of Chinese cultural activities at the opening ceremony. The museum's initiative received a positive response from OUCI, as did the cultural activities.

There were viewers arriving at the exhibition hall earlier than the beginning of the event. They were interested in various Chinese culture demonstrations prepared by OUCI. The demonstrations included: a big screen equipped with the "Chinese Culture" software, long scrolls showing the Forbidden City and Summer Palace in Beijing, as well as tea, zither (or Guzheng), paper cutting, and Chinese calligraphy performances. OU students were invited to performGuzheng and students from Chinese Youth Academy perform lion dancing; andstudents from theNorman Chinese Schools performed dances. Oklahoma's Miss Asia performed the "Red Silk Dance" and the second place winner of the Oklahoma Chinese Bridge Speech Contest performed Yoyo. Their practice and hard work attracted many visitors and was well received.

The opening ceremony began at 6 pm, and themuseum curator, Dr. Martin gave the first speech to welcome the arrival of the audience. Then, the OU vice Provost and Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences, Dean Bell, presented a vivid and humorous speech. He opened the speech with Chinese, indicating his love of Chinese and his confidence in learning Chinese, but he alsoused English in order to let the American audience understand. In fact, Dean Bell’s speech by itself was a lively cultural performance, which drew bursts of laughter.

After the ceremony, visitors could not wait to watch the other performances. Some gathered around the Chinese Kung Fu Tea table, others observedthe tea performers as they used exquisite antique tea sets to make tasty tea for the audience. This was a good interpretation of the "elegant", "quiet" and "harmony" spirit of the Chinese culture. Next to the Kung Fu tea, Guzheng performer was playing a classic ancient music. Zheng’selegant sound reminds people of mountains and streams, and the sound in a lonely valley. The scrolls of the Forbidden City and Summer Palace also attracted many visitors. The silk-quality materials and the magnificent architectural complex picture illustrate the profound Chinese culture. The most attractive performance however, was the table showing Chinese paper cutting and calligraphy. Almost everyone there waited in a long line for the performers to write their and their familya Chinese name and to obtain a paper-cut. Viewers were so interested in the activities that they forgot about the time;as a result, the event actually ended at nearly 9 pm instead of 8 pm as schedule.

A total of more than 700 visitors enjoyed this terrific demonstration of various Chinese cultural activities. Among all of the audience, Sally Eubanks Campbell Johnston’s comment may be quite representative: “Had a wonderful time last night! Loved the fortune cookies! The dancers were graceful and beautiful. Will go back to get a closer look at all the specimens, so many people!! You all did a wonderful job. I have often seen pictures on TV of the dances, and to see them in person was just a Chinasaurs experience. For those who remember T-Rex Named Sue exhibit, this was right up there with that!! Kudos to all involved. Food, friends, and a cultural exchange. Sam Noble did well.”