On September 29, members of the Asian Cultural Exchange (ACE) Club gathered in the DHS Food & Nutrition classroom kitchen to bond, make mooncakes, and celebrate the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival. The Mid-Autumn Festival, also known as the Moon Festival, is one of the most popular holidays celebrated in China and other Asian countries. It is always celebrated on the 15th of the 8th month in the lunar calendar, and because of this, there will always be a full moon on the day of the festival.
President Jinxuan (Crystal) Duan, a junior, started the ACE club spring of her sophomore year in the hopes of introducing more aspects of Asian culture to the high school. “It hasn’t been an easy journey,” Crystal says, “since the demographics of Dexter consist of only 2% Asians.” There have also been a lot of questions about whether or not it’s okay for people to come to meetings even if they are not a part of the Asian American and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) community.
“But, that is exactly the purpose of ACE,” Crystal shares, “to expose more people to AAPI cultures so they can learn more about different lifestyles around the world.”
“I started to club in the hopes of introducing the newest and trendiest aspects of Asian Culture to the community, as well as uncover some of the rich histories behind these long-lasting traditions/cultures,” she continues.
On this particular holiday, Crystal shared the background of the festival and how it is celebrated in Asian countries. During the Mid-Autumn Festival, families reunite with their loved ones and eat a grand dinner followed by a delicious dessert–mooncakes–while admiring the moon from the comfort of their homes or on a porch or balcony. She also shared the ancient myth of the Mid-Autumn Festival, the story of Chang’e, Hou Yi and the elixir of immortality, a tragic story about love and selflessness.
From Lihui Yang's Handbook of Chinese Mythology:
In the ancient past, there was a hero named Hou Yi who was excellent at archery. His wife was Chang'e. One year, the ten suns rose in the sky together, causing great disaster to the people. Yi shot down nine of the suns and left only one to provide light. An immortal admired Yi and sent him the elixir of immortality. Yi did not want to leave Chang'e and be immortal without her, so he let Chang'e keep the elixir. However, Peng Meng, one of his apprentices, knew this secret. So, on the fifteenth of August in the Chinese lunisolar calendar, when Yi went hunting, Peng Meng broke into Yi's house and forced Chang'e to give the elixir to him. Chang'e refused to do so. Instead, she swallowed it and flew into the sky. Since she loved her husband and hoped to live nearby, she chose the moon for her residence. When Yi came back and learned what had happened, he felt so sad that he displayed the fruits and cakes Chang'e liked in the yard and gave sacrifices to his wife. People soon learned about these activities, and since they also were sympathetic to Chang'e they participated in these sacrifices with Yi.
Crystal guided the club through the process of making Snow Skin mooncakes (one of the many types of mooncakes)
from scratch. Students worked at one of four stations: two stations for making the outer dough, the “snow skin” of the mooncake, and two stations for making the creamy mooncake filling. In addition, there was a mooncake mold station where students had the choice of eight different mold designs to print on their hand-made mooncakes. While they cooked, students were introduced to a mix of traditional Chinese music (Guzheng, Erhu, and modern C-Pop, including Chinese reality music shows) which played in the background. Crystal also taught them how to say “Happy Mid-Autumn Festival” in Chinese: 中秋节快乐 (zhōng qiū jié kuài lè).
"Learning how to make mooncakes from scratch was such a fun and rewarding experience,” shared ACE Club advisor and DHS teacher Maria Vasquez-Brieva. “As I look back on the event, a few things stand out. First was Crystal’s thoughtful preparation: the ingredientes, utensils and video-tutorial were ready to go from the start and she expertly guided everyone through the culinary journey. Measuring, spooning, mixing, thickening the dough, and washing dishes… everyone pitched in wherever it was needed. At one point you could see a row of club members assembling the crust and the filling that would be destined for the last, most satisfying, step: pressing those little morsels of pastry into a perfectly decorated mooncake. It was a successful collaborative effort!"
Sophomore Molly Noesen-Bosscher shared, “We had so much fun making Mooncakes and learning about the Mid-Autumn Festival in Asian cultures! It was great to be together as a community. We not only celebrated a Chinese holiday, but also the culture and how it’s relevant to students in Dexter. Even if we’re not all the same ethnicity, our club helps to connect people of different ethnic backgrounds or cultures in ways that aren’t always possible in school settings. Having people share their ideas and experiences is great. The mooncake making experience was one to remember!”
“I think learning how to make moon cakes was a very enriching and cool experience,” junior Kaela Laurin says. “I didn’t know anything about the festival or the tradition before, and now I get to appreciate and learn about the festival and also get to enjoy a sweet treat after!”
Click here for a short video of the students making mooncakes.
ACE meets every 1st and 3rd Friday of the month in Mrs Vazquez’s Room (3rd floor, 581) from 3-4pm. ACE is open to everyone and we are super excited that you are willing to learn or try something new!
Instagram & Tiktok: @dhsaceclub
Milk powder: 60 g.
Wheat starch: 35 g.
Milk: 120 g.
Melted butter (unsalted): 50 g.
Sugar: 60 g.
Glutinous rice flour: 50 g.
Regular rice flour: 50 g.
Wheat flour: 25 g.
Sugar: 25 g.
Milk: 185 g.
Condensed milk: 25 g.
Oil: 25 g.
Glutinous rice flour: 15 g.
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- Mill Creek Middle School
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