Newsletter: Take Chinese Language and Chinese Culture as Bridge
Confucius Institutes in Europe Help Enhance Friendship between People in China and Europe

[Source] [Time]    2018-06-06 11:49:24 

In recent years, the fever of learning Chinese language has kept rising across the world. Confucius Institutes and Confucius Classrooms worldwide play an undeniable role in the process of bringing Chinese language and culture closer to the international community.

At present, there are 525 Confucius Institutes worldwide, among which 173 have been set up in 41 European countries. This shows the enthusiasm of the European people for learning Chinese and their deep interest in Chinese culture. These Confucius Institutes and Confucius Classrooms use Chinese language as a medium and Chinese culture as a bridge to help enhance friendship between people in China and Europe.

Chinese Culture Emerging in Europe

Torun, an ancient city in northern Poland, is the hometown of the famous astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus. During this year’s Spring Festival, Marcin Pilarski, a citizen of Torun, took his family to the local Confucius Classroom, where they experienced the Chinese dragon dances, paper cutting, and traditional Chinese calligraphy. They also attended a Chinese language class.

“This year’s Spring Festival activities have given us a close experience of Chinese culture. My children and I were very fond of it,” Pilarski told reporters with excitement. In order to encourage his children to learn Chinese, they also signed up to become students at the local Confucius Classroom.

In recent years, traditional Chinese martial arts have also become part of the lives of many European people.

With the help of the Confucius Institute at Vilnius University, a Tai Chi practice rush has been observed in recent years in Lithuania. In 2016, 233 Vilnius citizens took part in a spectacular scene, jointly practicing Tai Chi in one place.

Getting to Know China with Chinese Language as a Medium

Mateusz Adamkiewicz, an18-year-old Polish student, has a strong interest in Chinese language and culture. Since there was as yet no Chinese language school in his hometown Torun, he began to learn Chinese by himself four years ago, using borrowed textbooks. When he knew that the first Confucius Classroom had opened in Toruń, he felt very lucky. He jokingly said, "I really did not expect that pies do fall from the sky, and so Chinese teachers."

Laura Zatina, a student of Confucius Institute at Vilnius University, just like Adamkiewicz, is very happy to be able to learn Chinese there. She excitedly told reporters, “Not only can we learn Chinese language at the Confucius Institute, but we can also apply for scholarships, summer camps and exchange studies. This gives us the opportunity to visit China, experience Chinese culture and understand contemporary China better.”

Moreover, the standard of teaching demonstrated by the Confucius Institute teachers has also been commended European students.

In a teachers’ assessment activity held by University of Helsinki in Finland, teachers from Confucius Institutes received 98 percent positive evaluation. Some students even wrote: “Chinese class is the best foreign language class I have ever had in college.”

Culture Bridging Friendship

President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa of Portugal once praised Confucius Institutes’ role in Portugal at the 2017 High Education Exhibition. In that event, he recognized cultural presentation activities conducted by Confucius Institutes, and expressed hope that it would continue to play an active role in people-to-people and cultural exchanges between the two countries.

In 2014, the Barcelona municipal government awarded the local Confucius Institute for its great contributions in promoting mutual understanding between Spanish people and Chinese people. Subsequently, it provided the Confucius Institute with nearly 1,000 square meters of free space in the central part of the city. According to Chang Shiru, the Chinese Director of Confucius Institute in Barcelona, “The Confucius Institute has provided more than 40 job opportunities for local people since its establishment. Our students have found good jobs after learning Chinese, and some have also obtained Chinese language teacher certificates.”

To fulfill her dream of being a Chinese teacher, Luana Cini from Malta resigned her job at the Office of Deputy Prime Minister and went to the local Confucius Institute to concentrate on Chinese learning. She told the reporter, “I want to become a Chinese teacher because I love Chinese so much. I also want to encourage more Maltese people to learn Chinese and make friends with Chinese people.”

The effects of Confucius Institutes are also seen in the young generation of European citizens. In the Polish finals of the 10th “Chinese Bridge” Chinese proficiency competition for foreign secondary school students, Kinga Fritz from the second high school in Krakow won the first prize. In her speech, she emphasized, “I hope that the teachers and judges present today can remember my face and recognize me many years later when we meet in the Chinese streets. I will definitely try my best to study and work in China, and contribute to exchanges between China and Poland.”

(With contributions from Guo Mingfang, Yuan Yun, Chen Xu, Guo Qun, Li Jizhi, Guo Qiuda Xinhua News Agency, Warsaw, May 31st)

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