Chinese Helps Me Realize My Dream in Life

[Source]    Confucius Institute at the University of Yaounde II, Cameroon [Time]    2017-11-21 17:54:51 

I am Kamdem Mague Sorelle Edith and my Chinese name is Kang Mai. I come from Cameroon, known as “Little Africa”. Since 2011, I began to learn Chinese at the Maroua School of the Confucius Institute at the University of Yaounde II, and I have been closely bound up with Chinese since then. During these six years, I have changed from being ignorant of Chinese to becoming a local Chinese teacher in internship now in Maroua. My passion and enthusiasm for Chinese has been elevated and my interest in Chinese culture has become increasingly stronger. It can be said that Chinese has changed my lifestyle and my whole life.

Kang Mai attending the opening ceremony of the Maroua School of the Confucius Institute at the University of Yaounde II in October this year

As a little girl, I especially enjoyed watching Chinese movies and my heart was full of longing and fondness for this distant and mysterious oriental nation. It was such fondness that brought me to Chinese learning. After graduating from high school, I was admitted into the University of Yaounde I to learn linguistics. It was also at that time that I heard I was able to learn Chinese at the Higher Teachers’ Training College (ENS) of University of Maroua. However, I was required to pass the entrance exams (a written examination and an interview). Therefore, I started to prepare for it seriously. At that time, the content of the examination was only about Chinese history and we could answer questions either in French or English. But now the examination also covers the basic knowledge of Chinese language and Chinese culture. I worked so hard that I finally passed the exam and came to Maroua to learn Chinese in October of 2011.

It was the first time that I came to know the name of “Confucius Institute” and its functions after coming to Maroua. I found all the teachers are Chinese and all of them are teachers of the Confucius Institute. They often held various cultural activities and introduced us to HSK as well as the process of applying for the Confucius Institute Scholarship. When I started learning Chinese in the first place, I did not like to speak for I was very introverted then, but I was fond of writing Chinese characters. When I was in the first grade, I passed HSK Level 3. In my second grade, a Chinese teacher told me, “Kang Mai, I found that you write the Chinese characters very well and your grades are also excellent. Yet, you do not like to talk very much and you seldom answer questions in class. You should practice your spoken Chinese by listening to Chinese songs, watching Chinese movies and TV, which will help you correct pronunciation errors. And I hope you can participate in more activities as well.” Encouraged by the teacher, I participated in the “Chinese Bridge” Chinese Proficiency Competition for Foreign College Students. Finally, I entered the finals on behalf of Maroua and won the winning prize. In the third grade, I passed the HSK Level 5, which made me a “learning overlord” at school in other people’s eyes. Moreover, I also spoke as the student representative at the graduation ceremony. In May 2015, I went to Yaounde as the hostess of the finals of “Chinese Bridge”. At that time, I was very proud of being capable of speaking fluent Chinese on stage and my deepest impression was that after the competition, many representatives of Chinese corporations gave me their business name cards and hoped I could go to their company for interview to be their translator.

In October of 2015, I participated in the Sino-Africa Friendship Knowledge Competition and won the National Championship of Cameroon. After that, I went to Beijing for the finals on behalf of Cameroon. And in Beijing, I found out that the most representative country in Africa was Cameroon because there were five contestants from it. I was the only one who was coming to China for the first time and the other four were studying in universities all over China as international students. They shared with me their own experience of studying in China, which made me feel more attracted to China. When I flew back from China, I said to myself that after graduating from Maroua, I must apply for a scholarship to study in China. So once I returned to Maroua, I re-took the examination of HSK Level 5 and HSK Intermediate, and eventually applied for a scholarship of the Confucius Institute with excellent grades.

In October of 2015, Kang Mai attending the Sino-African Friendship Knowledge Competition held by Maroua Office of the Confucius Institute

Kang Mai attending the Sino-Africa Friendship Knowledge Competition in Beijing

In the process of learning Chinese, Chinese teachers from the Confucius Institute have given me a lot of help in Maroua and they sowed Chinese seeds in Cameroon. It was quite hot in Maroua and the teachers often gave lessons in the heat of over forty degrees. They have contributed a lot in order to enable the seeds to grow into towering trees. In the Chinese classes, we experienced the profoundness and extensiveness of Chinese language and felt the charisma of Chinese culture in the cultural activities. A teacher once told us a story about trees and grass, which enlightened us that people have two ways of life, one is living like a grass, growing every year but seeming to not have grown at all, while the other is growing like a tree, which can still absorb the nutrients of the soil even if it is rooted in it. I have benefited a lot from this story, and I hope I can grow like a tree. Even if I were stepped into the soil, I could still absorb the nutrients and grow into a towering one as long as the seed of the tree is there.

Kang Mai visiting the Confucius Institute Headquarters

Kang Mai visiting Tiananmen Square in Beijing

In order to realize my dream of becoming a big tree, I finally fulfilled my wish to study for Master of International Chinese Education in Zhejiang Normal University in 2016 through the Confucius Institute Scholarship. My first impression of Zhejiang Normal University was that the campus was particularly beautiful. The library was quite convenient and large with huge collection of books. The learning environment in the university was also very pleasant. There was a huge difference between learning Chinese in China and doing so in Cameroon because in China you could make Chinese friends, talk to them frequently, and learn together. You could speak Chinese no matter when and where, so you could make progress particularly quickly. During my study at Zhejiang Normal University, I not only improved my proficiency in Chinese, but also learned professional knowledge and skills that a Chinese teacher should possess theoretically.

Kang Mai studying for the degree of Master of International Chinese Education in Zhejiang Normal University

Kang Mai working as an intern teacher in her alma mater—University of Maroua

Currently, I am a student in my second year of postgraduate study in the College of International Culture and Education of Zhejiang Normal University, and I am also an intern teacher of the Higher Teachers’ Training College of University of Maroua, my alma mater, of which I am quite proud. I used to be merely a student, but now when I came back, my classmates call me “teacher”, and it makes me feel a little bit weird because I am not completely accustomed to it. At the same time, I feel that I am really on my way to realizing my dream of life and the Confucius Institute has given me such an opportunity to realize it. I am so happy and also feel very lucky. After graduating as a postgraduate, I intend to apply for a scholarship to further my study for a PhD degree. I hope that I, myself can be a seed of Chinese language, so that this flower of Chinese language can be rooted and blooming in Cameroon one day, becoming more tender and beautiful. The process is a line and the result is a point. I know that this line is still long, but if I work hard and try to do well what I am going to do, I believe that one day I will reach my point and come to my destination: to be an excellent native Chinese teacher.

Story and photos by Maroua School of the Confucius Institute at the University of Yaounde II