[Sustainable and Steady Progress for New Journey] When Poland and China Embark on Cultural Exchange Path

[Source]    cnr.cn [Time]    2018-02-07 14:53:46 
 

According to china.cnr.cn/newszh, Chinese and Polish cultures share many similarities: both have ancient and profound history and both suffered a lot in World War II. With the deepening of economic and trade exchanges, the 7000-kilometer distance between the two countries can now be bridged by an overnight flight, and the psychological barrier of being a continent away from each other has also gradually melted. The Polish of today are not only aware of Beijing but also understand its greetings and courteous ways as well as basic interpersonal jargon including “It is always a pleasure to greet a friend from afar”.

To celebrate the fifth anniversary of the Belt and Road Initiative, China National Radio made a series of transnational interviews entitled “Sustainable and Steady Progress for the New Journey”. Today, its 15th report, “When Poland and China embark on a cultural exchange path” was broadcast.

Founded in 1364, Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland is one of the oldest universities in the world. The story of how Professor Andrzej Kapiszewski, a sociology professor in the university, dedicated the “last stage of his life” to the Confucius Institute is still fondly remembered here. His wife Maria Kapiszewski, recalled that in September of 2006, after being diagnosed with terminal bone cancer, the doctor gave Kapiszewski two choices: to rest in bed or to do the thing he considers the most meaningful. Kapiszewski, who had served as Polish Ambassador to Iran, Qatar and the UAE, made his choice without any hesitation to found the Confucius Institute in Krakow, the first Confucius Institute in Poland.

Maria Kapiszewski said, “My husband once said that as China will or has already become the world’s first economic powerhouse, people must learn about China and they want to know about China. They should be brought together for this important thing.”

This “important thing” was finally achieved on September 26, 2006, over 200 people witnessed the unveiling of the Confucius Institute in Krakow, where now the sound of book enthusiasts covers the venue.

Having lived in Poland for years, from his time working as a foreign correspondent and Chinese Director of the Confucius Institute in Krakow, Han Xinzhong, is fully aware of how strongly the ordinary Polish are curious about China but how little they actually know about it. “There is a wide road in Warsaw, and once a Polish driver asked me if the roads in Beijing were as wide”. “Beijing has many roads wider than this, came my answer. They indeed have no idea.”

As one of few Chinese tour-guides officially recognized by Poland, Chen Wei has been living in Warsaw for 24 years. In his eyes, curiosity and contradiction are the key words characterizing Polish people’s impression on China. According to Polish media reports, many Polish are now fully aware that China is developing rapidly, but they still have no idea of the speed of its development, as if it is something that has happened overnight. In Poland, people who have extensive trade relationship with China push their children learn Chinese.

Han knows that the answer to this all but acceptable ignorance lies in the sound of language learning at a class in the fifth middle school of Krakow. To be accepted by more Polish people, Chinese language should be widely accessible. Han said that Chinese language teaching should transcend small classrooms and move onto classes in local primary and middle schools. For this purpose, he sent Chinese language teachers of the Confucius Institute to instruct in other places. His view is also shared by Mu Jun, the standing vice chairman of Chinese Council for the Promotion of Peaceful National Reunification in Poland. As a Polish, Mu Jun married a Chinese woman and always puts the Chinese proverb “State-to-state relations thrive when there is friendship between the peoples.” on his lips. Although the kindergarten he founded four years ago has been far away from making any profit, the mission of “popularizing Chinese” set up at the beginning has never been forsaken.

According to Mu, in the summer of 2017, he organized a Polish local club to attend an international invitational match at Guangzhou Evergrande Football School. The kids from the club were 14 or 15 years old, and he believes they have held a very favorable impression on China ever since.

In Warsaw, more than 300 kilometers away from Krakow, Chai Hongyun, President of China-Poland Economic and Cultural Association, who also runs a Chinese language teaching business, is keenly aware of “China craze”. The Chinese classes for children he’s running include classes for children aged 5 to 8 and 9 to 13 years old, and some classes have been running for over three years.


The journalist interviewing Yao Dongye, Charge d'Affaires ad interim of the Chinese Embassy in Poland

Yao Dongye, Charge d'Affaires ad interim of the Chinese Embassy in Poland, said that in addition to various events in fields such as creativity and art, Chinese language teaching in Poland is now developing by leaps and bounds, extending from higher education and adult education all the way to fundamental education. The craze for Chinese language is part of “China craze”. Many schools have set up degree programs for Chinese language. A total of nine colleges and universities have jointly raised to the Confucius Institute Headquarters (Hanban) their request to establish Confucius Classrooms or Confucius Institutes and so far five have been established. Although we will not go for 9 in the end, the requests have reflected Chinese craze. At the same time, the first China-Poland bilingual high school has been established in Krakow.

Professor Kapiszewski, who regarded the establishment of the Confucius Institute as his last saga, said in 2006, “I admire Confucius and agree with China's culture of harmony. There are many similarities between Polish culture and Chinese culture. I hope both countries can enhance the communication and work hard to find the key to resolving international disputes through culture.” Unfortunately, he failed to witness the establishment of the “Belt and Road” China-Poland University Alliance, the “China-Poland Engineering School”, and the set-up of the “Center for Chinese Studies” and even that of the Traditional Chinese Medicine programs in many Polish universities. However, in the key of culture in which he firmly believed hides the simplest password. By turning the key and eliminating all barriers, China, still complicated to Polish people, gradually becomes clear.

(Story by Shen Jingwen, Xiao Yuan Zhang and Guoliang, cnr.cn, Warsaw, February 2nd)

 
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