This course brings spring into the classroom

A gentle breeze caresses students’ faces, carrying with it the sweet scent of blooming flowers. The entire campus is imbued with the rejuvenating energy of spring. At NJU, there is a highly sought-after course that embodies this spirit of renewal - the “healing class,” as it’s affectionately called by all who attend it. In this class, 25 students from various majors learn the art of flower arrangement, honing their skills by carefully observing the nature around them and using their deft hands to create stunning works of art.

Strong and vigorous plum branches, cherry blossom waiting to bloom, colorful tulips, fresh and elegant small daisies… Every Tuesday afternoon in this semester, outside the Flower Arrangement and Creativity course classroom is packed with flowers, attracting passersby to stop and enjoy.

Robust and dynamic plum branches, cherry blossoms on the brink of blooming, vibrant tulips, and delicate, fresh daisies... Every Tuesday afternoon this semester, the area outside the Flower Arrangement and Creativity course classroom is brimming with an array of exquisite flowers, captivating the attention of passersby who pause in admiration.

For the past decade, Yu Haiyuan, teacher of the course, has been immersed in the art of flower arrangement. Now, at NJU, she is delighted to share her skills with the students. Reflecting on this opportunity, Ms. Yu said that “It is a profound honor in my life to share the art of flower arrangement with my students.” Her aspiration is that through the study of this course, her students will personally experience the harmonious blend of nature and traditional culture, engaging their senses and gaining a deep appreciation for the aesthetic essence found in the ever-changing seasons. Ultimately, Ms. Yu aims to nurture her students' hearts, adding beauty and enrichment to their lives.

Throughout history, a deep appreciation for flowers has been shared by many. In ancient times, people used flowers as a means of expressing their emotions. The act of admiring, plucking, wearing, and adorning hair with flowers has a rich and enduring legacy. During the course, Ms. Yu imparts knowledge to her students about the rich history of the Chinese culture and art of flower arrangement. By integrating traditional culture into education, she guides her students on a journey of appreciating the captivating fusion of traditional heritage and the art of flower arrangement.

Ms. Yu's engaging explanations transform the theoretical aspect of learning into an enjoyable experience. Long Rong, a student from the School of History said that "I have learnt that in just a few succinct lines, the ancient people's meticulous process of arranging flowers can be vividly depicted before our eyes: they shield the flowers from wind and rain with a heavy curtain, trim them with exquisite scissors inlayed with cold, collect rain and dew in a jade pot to preserve their freshness, and display the flowers on intricately carved pedestals. Additionally, after arranging the flowers, they would create paintings, compose music, and recite poetry in their honor. This series of activities made me feel deeply the ancient people's profound love for flowers. Perhaps only through such reverence can we truly match the innate beauty of flowers."

In addition to sharing the history of flower arrangement in China, Ms. Yu also introduces the art of Western flower arrangement. By seamlessly integrating Eastern and Western knowledge, she bridges the gap between ancient traditions and modern practices. Xia Ling, a student from the School of International Relations, expressed her appreciation of the course, stating, "Ms. Yu has opened our eyes to the global history of flower arrangement. Through her teachings, I have come to appreciate the spatial design and the enchanting essence of life embedded within the art of flower arrangement."

Following their exploration of the rich history of flower arrangement, the students are given the opportunity to immerse themselves in the practical aspect of the art. In each class, Ms. Yu introduces a specific style of flower arrangement, offering detailed explanations and live demonstrations to foster a profound understanding of flower characteristics and color harmonization. Through these hands-on experiences, the students have cultivated essential skills in flower arrangement, honing their abilities and nurturing their artistic sensibilities.

Xue Yihan, an exchange student from the School of Business said that she had the habit of placing some flowers and plants at home, but she did not know much about flower arrangement. She said that she is impressed by the idea that “flowers should be arranged with vitality and energy, so the flower heads must be upward, not drooping”. She has also learned that “flower arrangement is an art, like ballet, it requires the flowers to stretch out”.

From the meticulous process of selecting flowers to the precise pruning of branches and leaves, to envisioning the perfect layout to the hands-on creation, every step of flower arrangement demands unwavering focus and attention. In the tranquil embrace of spring, the students engage in a profound aesthetic dialogue with the flowers and plants, allowing their creativity to intertwine with nature's beauty.

Translator: Jiang Huiyuan

Editors: Chen Xing, He Yao