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It’s the language spoken by the most people on the planet, and that number is growing rapidly – thanks, in part, to a weekly class up in Blacklion.

Every Wednesday, from 4pm to 6pm, a bunch of very happy kids gather at Educate Together for Chinese Studies, under the caring eye of Evan Furlong.

And when GG swung by for their end-of-term party recently, it was clear these kids are having fun learning not only the language but the rich culture and deep history of China. Of course, it helps when part of that culture is making delicious Chinese dumplings.

And that’s not all. Having debuted at the school last year, the Mandarin Chinese Character Festival will return to Greystones on Sunday, February 25th. Celebrating that rich history of Chinese art and culture with music, costumes, calligraphy, performance and, yep, yummy food, the festival proved to be a major hit last February.

As the Chinese language is set to become part of our Leaving Cert exams by 2022, and our Minister for Education, Richard Bruton, introduces new subsidies for teacher training courses in languages and science, it’s clear that quite a bit of this generation’s future is going to be made in China.

We’ll have more on February’s big Mandarin Chinese festival later this month – for now, we caught up with Evan to talk about the language, the culture and the craic behind the land of the ever-rising sun…

You can find out more about Evan’s weekly Chinese Studies for kids and teens right here, and check out last year’s Mandarin Chinese Character Festival at Educate Together here.

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