Newsletter: Form Ties with China and Have One’s Life Changed—Teaching Career of an Afghan Chinese Teacher

[Source] [Time]    2018-02-05 16:21:28 

There is neither central heating, air conditioner nor enough desks and chairs in the shabby classroom. In winter, cold air blows past the walls from time to time. Farzana Khashie, a teacher at the Department of Chinese at the Ibn-e Sina University in Afghanistan, is giving a lecture at the center of the platform. The students concentrate their attention on the teacher’s speaking and there are occasional interactions between the teacher and the students.

21-year-old Farzana is one of the few female Chinese teachers in Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan. In a local society where women are less exposed to education, she managed to realize her personal value and change her destiny through teaching Chinese and spreading Chinese culture.

“When I was a kid, I wished to visit China”, Farzana said. The ancient cultural legacy as well as the unique scenery of it displayed on the TV screen left a deep impression on Farzana when she was little. From then on, she has been looking forward to learning Chinese culture and having more profound understanding towards China.

“It was a pity that I didn’t have the opportunity to learn Chinese when I was little and there weren’t any Chinese courses at middle schools.” Farzana was admitted to Kabul University in 2013 and was given the chance to pursue her Chinese dream there. At that time, the Confucius Institute at Kabul University was the first of its kind in Afghanistan and the only institution that possessed a Chinese teaching site.

Farzana recalled that in class, she would be drawn by the sentences formed with the beautiful Chinese characters, and would recite them again and again with the teacher. She wished that someday she could stand on the platform and share this knowledge with her compatriots so as to open a window for them to know more about China.

But the harsh reality always hide behind the curtains of hope as it is extremely hard for women to receive education in her country, not to mention letting women undertake educational positions. According to the statistics from the United Nations Children’s Fund, across Afghanistan, 3.5 million school-age children are currently out of school, of whom 70% are girls. In response, the media has reported that fighting terrorism is a war in Afghanistan and popularizing education among women is just another one.

The cruel reality, however, strengthened Farzana’s determination to become a Chinese teacher. In Farzana’s resume, the journalists saw testimony of her diligence in learning Chinese: a certificate of scholarship awarded by the Chinese Embassy, a certificate of Chinese Proficiency Test (HSK) at Level V, a certificate of excellence in a Chinese calligraphy competition awarded by the Confucius Institute, to name just a few. It is evident that Farzana has spared no effort to obtain these certificates.

In September 2016, with outstanding achievements and through layers of selection, Farzana stood out among the Chinese major graduates of the university, and was appointed as a teacher of the Chinese teaching site of Ibn-e Sina University in Afghanistan, becoming the first female ever to do so.

On the day she received the offer from the university, Farzana wept at her father’s grave. “I told my father that I had become a teacher just like my elder brother.” As far as Farzana is concerned, the precedent she has set is the best present her father could ever have wished for.

So far, the country’s insecurity, limited schooling conditions and the lack of education resources are all significant elements that restrict the development of Chinese teaching in the local area. It is not until January 2008 that the first Chinese teaching site starts its operations.

Thanks to relentless effort by China and Afghanistan spanning years, the cause is finally on the right tracks, enabling all Afghan people who are eager to learn Chinese to have the opportunity to do so. Ibn-e Sina University is one of the two new Chinese teaching sites that meet the needs of the local society. Moreover, Chinese teaching tasks at Ibn-e Sina University are fully undertaken by local teachers.

According to Li Huiyang, Chinese Director of the Confucius Institute at Kabul University, with the further development of the teaching staff, there will be more Chinese teachers up on the platform to spread Chinese culture in the future. We must cultivate more local teachers fond of Chinese culture like Farzana.

It is reported that the Confucius Institute Headquarters (Hanban) has recently set up a Confucius Institute Scholarship: Professional Development for Chinese Language Teachers in South Asian Countries in 2015. The program provides scholarships to about 50 Afghan students annually to support them to study the major of Teaching Chinese to Speakers of Other Languages in China, so as to promote the localization of Chinese teachers in Afghanistan.

Standing on the platform, Farzana writes down one Chinese character after another on the whiteboard in a delicate style. The Chinese characters she writes, “today”, “tomorrow” and “future”, reflect not only her dream, but also of her students’.

(Story by Dai He, Jiang Chao, Xinhua News Agency, Kabul, January 23rd)