Interns from a Chinese university are promoting Chinese arts and crafts and learning how Chinese New Year is being celebrated here at the Spring In The City festive event, now on at VivoCity and Raffles City shopping malls.
Some 30 undergraduates from Chengdu Institute of the Sichuan International Studies University have been manning booths showcasing Chinese paper-cuts, teapots, calligraphy and paintings and more at VivoCity since early last month. Another 20 are doing likewise at Raffles City.
They were selected from about 500 students who applied to come here for the event, now an annual Chinese New Year attraction at both malls. The event includes performances by Chinese cultural troupes at VivoCity's level 3 amphitheatre every evening till Saturday.
"We earn credits from the internship and it is a good opportunity for us to travel and promote Chinese arts and culture abroad too," said Miss Jiang Yuzhu, 20, a third-year translation and interpretation student from the university.
Golden Travel Services chairman Lin Dengli, 67, said: "The undergraduates from Chengdu started coming here annually from 2009, after we signed an agreement with the university there."
She is also organiser of the event, which has grown from an 18-day affair in 1994 at Raffles City to a 50-day event now. In the past, undergraduates from other Chinese universities, including those from Nanjing, Fujian and Beijing, had been here too, she said.
"We find them very helpful and the students benefit too because their stint here is good overseas exposure and an opportunity for them to speak English," Madam Lin added.
The interns must possess a friendly personality and the ability to speak English. They pay for their passage here and back, but Madam Lin provides them with food and lodging and a small allowance daily. They are being put up at Dunman High School's student hostel.
The 100 interns from the Chinese university come in two batches this year - the first arrived between Jan 6 and Jan 10, and will leave for home by Wednesday. They will be replaced by the second group which has just arrived.
What have they learnt about Chinese New Year here?
"It is quite similar to what is happening back home such as the sale of new year goodies at shopping malls, all decorated with lights and lanterns," said Miss Tu Yue, 20, who is training to be a teacher.
But another trainee teacher from the university, Miss Li Xiran, also 20, noted: "I find Chinese New Year in Singapore is celebrated by the other racial groups as well."
Spring In The City festivities end on Feb 22 at Raffles City, and on Feb 23 at VivoCity.