A Coleraine school has joined the Assembly celebrations to mark the Chinese New Year.
The Speaker of the Northern Ireland Assembly, William Hay MLA, hosted the event in Parliament Buildings last Tuesday.
The celebration featured the launch of the Zhejiang Photography Exhibition, and included a special performance by the Little Red Flower Dancing Troupe, a group of children who have travelled from China as part of the New Year celebrations.
The troupe performed with two local schools, Millburn Primary School, Coleraine and Grosvenor Grammar School, Belfast.
Mr Hay said: “As Speaker, I have worked hard to ensure that the Northern Ireland Assembly represents all of its citizens and that Parliament Buildings is a welcoming space for all of our communities.
“I am delighted to host a celebration of the Chinese New Year and to see a performance by the Little Red Flower Dancing Troupe, accompanied by children from two local schools.”
Millburn Primary School received a lot of praise for their performance in Mandarin and Vice-Principal Sharon Lamont said the school feels it is a very important langauge for the pupils to learn.
“It’s hugely beneficial for the pupils to learn Mandarin,” she said. “China is a world power and we want to prepare our children for a society which will have immediate links with the country.
“More importantly though is the more experiences you let a children have the deeper their understanding and tolerence will be.
“In today’s society I think it’s very important that we learn from one another.
“Learning Mandarin just isn’t about raising awarness of Chinese culture and language, it is very much about learning about the diversity of the society in which we live in today.”
And the pupils are clearly enjoying it. “It’s hard but you get used to it after a wee while,” said Rafferty, one of the children who is currently learning the language at the school.