Featured Resource: DimSum
Throughout February, a breathtaking array of Chinese cultural events will be taking place across Britain to celebrate the Chinese New Year festival; from lion dances to martial arts displays, paper cutting to storytelling. However, there is considerably more to the Chinese community in Britain than just the colour and spectacle of the New Year festivities. This month, the Real Histories Directory's featured resource is DimSum, one of the leading online resources serving the Chinese and East Asian community in Britain.
The site aims to provide a broad-ranging and up-to-date resource for all those with an interest in East Asian culture. Its pages include detailed listing of events across the country, a host of Chinese recipes, lively discussion forums, and an archive of news stories and feature articles about both Chinese issues and China itself. Featured articles offer considered opinions on art exhibitions, obituaries for notable East Asian personalities, and discerning restaurant reviews, and contributions from readers are encouraged. This month's features include articles on why Chinese New Year matters and whether there are any British Chinese role models. Although it is primarily concerned with cultural identity, DimSum also has a keen eye on political developments. The site includes a wide range of political articles and discussion threads, from the problem of gambling amongst the British Chinese to student protests in Beijing. This explicit agenda of promoting cultural awareness has won the site widespread recognition; it has drawn media attention from both the BBC and the Guardian; Sarah Yeh, who set up the site in 2002, has received The Windrush Community Award; and a regular DimSum writer, Wai Kwok Cheung, was honoured for his article on ethnicity in the workplace in the 'British Diversity Awards 2002'.
The articles on the site provide information relevant to a range of subjects. Many of the political pieces, for example, could form useful discussion points for Citizenship classes, as they address questions of social cohesion and integration. Also, features on life in China may be helpful in Geography teaching, while articles about notable Asian figures could be useful for students and teachers in History classes. Finally, articles on culture and the arts are relevant to the Drama and Art curriculum, and the events listings will be of interest to educators in both primary and secondary education.
Sarah Yeh founded the site in response to a growing need amongst British East Asians to explore and define their sense of community identity. Yeh feels that although the history of East Asian immigration to Britain stretches back over 200 years, the immigrant community itself still lacks a cohesive voice, and has often been sidelined or misunderstood. She points out that the sheer diversity of the East Asian community is often overlooked, and that while many British Chinese do have roots in mainland China, many others hail from Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, and Taiwan.
'Dim Sum' itself can be literally translated as 'little heart satisfiers', and refers to the style of Chinese meal which consists of small portions of many different dishes. While the founders of DimSum hope that their website will stimulate conversation and debate amongst their users in much the same way as a real meal would amongst diners, the site's name has another significance in this context – DimSum offers a wide variety of assorted brainfood to chew on.
Other Chinese and East Asian resources on the Real Histories Directory
- Whispers of Time: Oral History of the London Chinese
- Chinese Culture and Research Centre, Telford
- Leeds Vietnamese Community Association
- Chinese ICT Open Learning Centre
- Doncaster Chinese Learning and Resource Centre
- Swansea Chinese Community Co-op Centre
- Bishop RO Hall Chinese Centre
- Chinese Youth Forum
- One Million Days in China Online Exhibition, Glasgow
- China People Promotions
Some Chinese and East Asian events listed on the Real Histories Directory
Chinese New Year
- 9 February: Family fun day – The British Museum, London
- 9 February: Tet celebrations - London
- 10 February: Chinese New Year celebrations – Southampton
- 10 February: Chinese New Year celebrations – Central London
- 10 February: Chinese New Year celebrations – Newcastle
- 16 February: Tet celebrations - London
- 17 February: Chinese New Year celebrations – Preston
- 17 February: Tet celebrations - London
Music and Dance
- 21-22 February: Dragon Tongue Squad – Royal Opera House, London
- 22-24 February: Shen Yun Dance Spectacular – Royal Festival Hall, London
- Until 6 April: The First Emperor: China's Terracotta Army – The British Museum, London
- 1-28 February: Jia Zhangke film season – The ICA, London
- 9 February: Piccadilly – The British Museum, London