When Latin America Immerses in the World of Chinese (International Forum)

[Source]    People’s Daily [Time]    2018-01-31 16:46:36 

The vast Pacific Ocean cannot separate Latin America from China distance-wise, and when it comes to cultural exchanges that drive mutual understanding and mutual learning, the two peoples couldn’t be closer together.

The holding of the Second Ministerial Meeting of the Forum of China and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States recently in the Chilean capital city of Santiago is held just at a desirable time. Currently, China and Latin American countries are not only maintaining close political and economic ties, but also getting increasingly closer in bilateral cultural relations.

China has made extraordinary contributions to Latin America-China cooperation. The establishment of Confucius Institutes is a prominent example. Confucius Institutes came early to Latin America, and so far several have held their 10th anniversary celebration. Confucius Institutes have played a crucial role in Latin American people’s embarking into the many levels of the Chinese spectrum of influence and understanding China.

Latin Americans have never been more able to approach Chinese culture at such close distance as now. At present, China has established 36 Confucius Institutes and 11 Confucius Classrooms in 16 Latin American and the Caribbean countries, with a total enrollment of more than 50,000 and over 8 million people participating in various cultural activities organized by Confucius Institutes. These activities not only embody ancient Chinese civilizations but also the charisma of contemporary China.

The Confucius Institutes Latin American Regional Center (CILARC), after being developed, has implemented a series of important cultural programs in Santiago since 2014. The “Chinese Writers’ Forum” and “Chinese Filmmakers' Journey to Latin America enable writers and artists of both sides to effectively exchange ideas and views. These cultural activities all have extensive audience and participants, invigorating keen interest in the literature and art across the Pacific. The CILARC also organized activities such as art tours, seminars for sinologists and art competitions, and coordinated the Confucius Institutes' active participation in film festivals, poetry festivals and book festivals in the region.

Latin America is fired up with rising enthusiasm for Chinese learning with the number of students frequently reaching record highs. Chinese has been the second foreign language in Chile, followed only by English. This is inseparable from the active promotion by the Confucius Institute at University of Saint Thomas, Chile, the Confucius Institute at Catholic University of Peru, Chile, Confucius Classrooms under the Chilean Ministry of Education and many other universities and centers. In particular, it is worth noting that the Confucius Institute at St. Thomas University has teaching sites in 19 cities in Chile, covering almost all of its territory, which is rarely seen worldwide.

Chinese teaching and cultural popularization underpin and reinforce each other. Once a nation's language is understood and recognized, it will produce a co-movement effect and promote a deeper understanding of culture and interest in culture will also be a motivation to learn language. Currently, more and more Latin Americans are interested in Chinese culture and language, covering all strata and all ages. Such a broad and diverse group of cultural ambassadors will undoubtedly increase mutual trust and mutual learning. The cultural exchanges between Latin America and China will further push Latin American people and Chinese to work hand in hand to become a community with a shared future.

Confucius Institutes in Latin America and the CILARC will make further efforts to promote closer relations between Latin American countries and China so that they can better understand each other. Latin America and China should cherish current results and continue maintaining the sound momentum of mutual learning and understanding. The vast Pacific Ocean will no longer be an obstacle separating Latin America from China. Cultural exchanges will be another thoroughfare under the "Belt and Road” initiative, and will build a bridge of mutual learning and understanding between the two peoples.

(Author: Director of the CILARC)

(Story by Roberto Laffontaine, People's Daily, Page 22, January 25th, 2018)


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