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Young learners' centre celebrates its 8th birthday

Last week The British Council's Young Learners Centre celebrated its 8th Birthday on the 28th of January. The Young Learners Centre (YLC) is a unique centre for learning and entertainment for kids between the ages of 4 15 years. In YLC, kids are encouraged to take part in extra curricular activities such as reading books, play games, watch movies as well as learn about the latest in science and technology. Young members are also allowed to borrow books from the rich children library at the British council. Since it is all about children, it is no doubt that the birthday of YLC is aimed to towards children who came here in flocks to have fun and enjoy. YLC arranged many fun activities such as Meena bazaar, magic show and surprise guests as well.

The day long activity began at 10:30, and was inaugurated by Mr. ABM Salauddin, Director of Fine Arts, Shilpokola academy. The main buzz was around the Meena bazaar. The stalls were held by schools such as Maple Leaf and Marie Curie. There were also pop corn vendors, ice cream and drinks seller.

One particular stall sold home made cookies and cakes as well. While the Meena bazaar took place outside, the auditorium was full of other activities. At about 11:30, Prachhonat held a children stage drama called “Bagher Saaja”. Later a story telling workshop as held. During this time celebrity surprise guests Zahid Hassan and Mou were present to talk to the kids and answer their questions. Right after the Story telling was the Dress as you Like event.

I particularly liked the 5 kids who dressed up like RAB complete with toy guns (but boy did it look real) and sunglasses.

After launch there was Magic show by Magician Mr. Ali Raj. He captivated the audience with his magical words and sleight of hand. It was followed by Dace party.

The DJ (who's name I didn't get) rocked the whole auditorium, as all the children danced their heart out. Some parents joined as well. I thought. All in all it was a great event. It reminded me of how fun we had when I was their age. Kudos to the YLC for arranging such wonderful daylong event.

By Tanvir Hafiz

Campus news
Fantastic Mr. Fox
A Sunbeams drama club production

As a child, if you were ever a fan of the absolutely marvelous fantasies that Roald Dahl had written as fuel for a child's mind, then you would have been just as excited as me about watching the play Fantastic Mr. Fox.

The students of Sunbeams drama club had been rehearsing for the past two months and finally on the 27th January staged a grand play at the Shilpakala Academy. Before the show started I made my way to the green room to get a 'preview' of the upcoming play. It was bright colours, costumed characters scurrying about, musicians practicing and teachers screaming for order, in vain. The excitement was in the air, but what I didn't sense was nervousness. Confident about a great show coming up I took my seat in the upper floor of the auditorium. Shilpakala academy, very recently renovated, prides itself one of the best auditoriums in the city.

The lights dimmed and the curtains rose. The set was a fox den with a few 'sitting-stones', hedges and a farmhouse door in the background. A train of different animals of the 'underground world' like fox, rats, rabbits badgers, all came dancing onto the stage and started singing with the tune that was playing in the background. It was the theme song and it really stuck to my head for the entire evening.

The story went like this: Mr. Fox was an extremely cunning creature who lived with his entire family in a den under the land of three well not-so-clever farmers. They were fed up of how Mr. Fox robbed their farm and were always devising plans of how to kill him. They tried digging into the den, once manually and then mechanically, the latter scaring the fox family out of their hides. Once they even shot off Mr. Fox' tail! It was when the farmers got 'backup' of extra men that Mr. Fox really started to worry. He had an idea; he took his three children and dug his way to the world's most well replenished food stores. One contained a huge stock of chicken, the other had cider and the last one had all the vegetables that they could eat. On his burrowing expedition he had met the very enthusiastic Mr. Badger, worried Rabbit and the haughty Mr. Rat. In celebration of the great discoveries, Mr. Fox had a feast that night and invited everyone from the underground. They ate and danced and played the theme song! Meanwhile the farmers waited overhead for the Fox to come out because sooner or later he would need food, but little did they know that the shrewd fox had dug himself different routes.

The children had really carried out the play magnificently; characters were effectively portrayed, speech was loud and clear, dancing and singing at the same time that too in tune! All in all quite amazing. The director had done quite a good job of channeling the children's ability to scream into an on-stage talent. Once when I had peeked into their rehearsals, I thought it was a bit inhuman to make the little kids yell their lungs out, but then again if they had not done that then it would not have been possible for their voices to reach last row without the help of a single microphone!(believe it) The sound effects and music direction contributed a lot to the effectiveness of the play. The background music when Mr. Fox enters his den was quite sensational; it was so 'man-of-the-house-returning-home-after-a-long day's-work' music. Also the little 'romantic' scene between Mr. and Mrs. Fox was quite entertaining, thanks to the music as well as the performance. My personal favorite of characters was the little fox which was a real admirer of his father and screamed out enraged 'Shot my father…INDEED!' on receiving the shocking news.

Over all the show was applauded and enjoyed tremendously and I cannot wait for the next production of this very interesting drama crew.

By Midnight Maiden

Year of the dog

Chinese New Year, celebration of the new year in Chinese communities around the world. The date of the Chinese new year is determined by the lunar calendar, so festivities begin with the new cycle of the moon that falls between January 21 and February 19. Each year is named for one of 12 symbolic animals in sequence. The animals, in their sequential order, are the rat, ox, tiger, hare, dragon, serpent, horse, ram, monkey, rooster, dog, and boar.

The new year celebration is the most important and the longest of all Chinese festivals, traditionally lasting for two weeks. During this period, towns and villages are decorated with colored lanterns, floral displays, and brightly colored banners emblazoned with new year greetings. Preparations traditionally begin in the home the week before the new year, when families thoroughly clean their houses to symbolically sweep away all traces of misfortune. They also pay off debts, add a new coat of red paint to doors and windowpanes, and decorate the home with flowers.

To avoid bad luck, parents warn their children to be on their best behavior and to avoid the use of vulgar expressions. On the evening before the new year, families gather for a feast of various dishes of seafood and dumplings. Each dish has symbolic meaning, often signifying good luck and prosperity. At midnight, families light fireworks to attract the attention of benevolent gods and to frighten away evil spirits. The fireworks last until dawn, although celebrants may sporadically light more fireworks for the next two weeks.

On the first day of the new year, people put on new clothes to symbolize the discarding of the old year and its misfortunes. Then they take gifts to friends and relatives. The gifts usually include special rice flour cakes and fruits such as kumquats and oranges. Many adults, particularly married ones, also follow an ancient custom of giving small red packets of money (called hung-pao or lay shee) to children, unmarried adults, and employees or servants.

Among the most spectacular festivities of Chinese new year are the dragon and lion dances. As many as 50 or more people support long paper dragons and lions while dancing in processions down city streets. The dancers perform to the beating of gongs and drums, while other celebrants perform acrobatic displays.

Some of the performers may occasionally reach up to take red money packets or fruits and vegetables hung from storefronts. The celebrations end with the lantern festival, an event in which merchants hang lighted paper lanterns outside their shops. Many of the lanterns rotate with the heat of the candles they contain. Children often parade through the streets during the lantern festival, carrying lanterns of various shapes and patterns.


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