San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Cultural Center Opens In Budding Chinatown

In a room decorated in splashes of red and yellow, Chinese Ambassador to Costa Rica Li Changhua spoke to an audience in front of a Costa Rican flag.

“The embassies of China and Costa Rica always have dedicated themselves to promoting the exchange of communication in every circle between the two countries,” he said, “especially in the aspect of culture and education.”

Li stood inside the newest building symbolizing this growing connection between the two recently acquainted allies. The Chinese Embassy opened its Costa Rican-Chinese Cultural Center May 28 in downtown San José’s developing Chinatown on Paseo de los Estudiantes.

The center will offer various insights into Chinese culture, including classes on Mandarin and Chinese cooking. Carla Donadío, director of the center, said the center is beginning advertise these classes.

“The purpose of the center is to be a place where the Ticos and the Chinese who live here can learn more about the culture of China,” Donadío said.

The inauguration of the center concluded with a celebration in which new Culture Minister Manuel Obregón shared a bottle of sparkling wine with Li, performer Lucía Cheng Liu performed a traditional dance from the northwestern area of China, and two women sang a Mandarin love song, followed by a Costa Rican serenading the guests on his guitar.

Chinese appetizers – fried wontons, miniature egg rolls and dumplings – were served after the presentation ended.

The opening of the center served as another symbol of the flourishing relationship between China and Costa Rica. Costa Rica formed political ties with China in 2007, becoming the first and only Central American country to do so.

“There are many Chinese people in Costa Rica now,” Donadío said. “And until now there was nowhere people could send their kids to practice the Chinese language or to learn the dances, the recipes and other interesting things about the China.”

The Costa Rican-Chinese Cultural Center is on downtown San José’s Paseo de los Estudiantes (Calle 9), 50 meters south of the Casa del Tornillo, cream-colored building, third floor. For information, call 2223-8585.

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