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Sewickley Academy students learn Chinese calligraphy

| Thursday, Feb. 25, 2016, 11:00 a.m.
Sewickley Academy third-graders Jake Granne and Zach Granne and first-grader Arjun Kathju work on a calligraphy project at the private Edgeworth School on Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2016.
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Sewickley Academy third-graders Jake Granne and Zach Granne and first-grader Arjun Kathju work on a calligraphy project at the private Edgeworth School on Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2016.

After a few brush strokes over a series of classes, some Sewickley Academy students and staff might not proclaim proficiency, but at least can say they've written and read Chinese calligraphy.

The instruction took place over several weeks, culminating this month and focusing on how to read and write in Chinese, including the history and the meaning behind each symbol.

The lessons were led by Fu-Tyan Lin, a member of the Organization of Chinese Americans, and organized by academy teachers Rob Edwards and Shan Callaghan.

Sixth-grader Sanaya Patton said she enjoyed learning from Lin.

“I already take Mandarin and I wanted to see what the class was like,” she said. “I heard it was supposed to be calming. I really like it.”

Lin said his skill grew through education.

“In early education, the schools enforced calligraphy,” he said. “As we got older, we would have to complete a weekly report — all in Chinese calligraphy — and we always wrote in calligraphy to our teachers and elders.

“After I came to the United States, I would teach Chinese calligraphy at festivals. I would write people's names in Chinese for them.”

In addition to Lin sharing his knowledge of Chinese characters and expressions, the class also learned how to write their names and short phrases using black ink, brushes and rice paper.

Lin graduated from the National Taiwan Normal University in Taipei, Taiwan, in 1962 and came to the United States in 1969. In 1980, Lin became the director of the Nuclear Magnetic Resonance lab and served as a research assistant professor in the chemistry department at the University of Pittsburgh. He was promoted to the research associate professor in November 1986, and after 25 years of service, he retired from Pitt in 2005.

Through all of Lin's education, sharing Chinese culture with others remains important.

“I still travel to teach Chinese calligraphy,” he said. “I do it to keep my culture alive and share it with others who are interested.”

Christina Sheleheda is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.

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