Fall in Love with Chinese Culture and Chinese People

[Source]    People’s Daily Overseas Edition [Time]    2018-08-08 13:12:25 

A workshop of 13 members from all walks of life in Bulgaria came to Beijing to participate in the 2018 Chinese cultural training program of the Confucius Institute Headquarters (Hanban). Group members studying Chinese painting during their training

A workshop of 13 Bulgarian members from all walks of life including professors of law schools, heads of kindergartens, presidents of private schools and directors of publishing houses, came to Beijing to for the 2018 Chinese cultural training program of Confucius Institute Headquarters (Hanban).

This study tour was initiated by Iskra Mandova, Bulgarian Director of Confucius Institute at St. Methodius University of Veliko Turnovo. Staying in the post for six years, she said, “I hope the members can come to China in person. I believe that they will give more support to Chinese language teaching after their personal experience in China.”

“Unexpected Soaring Development of China”

Most of the members in the workshop came to China for the first time. What impressed them most was the “soaring development of China”.

Neyko Genchev, Director of Faber Press, told the journalist, “The visit to China helped me have a deeper understanding of a saying that ‘only those who have never been to China will speak ill of it’.”

Neyko Genchev said that “What I see every day is beautiful scenery” at the end of the tour. He not only enjoys these days in China, but also takes to Chinese culture and Chinese people. He hopes to come to China again.

Klara Zakova, who also came to China for the first time, is a teacher at Faculty of Law, Sofia University. “When I was in Bulgaria, I didn't expect that China could develop at such a fast speed. Mobile payment is one of the epitomes.” It is a valuable opportunity for her to have a close look at contemporary China. “I want to share everything in China with my students after I go back. China’s successful political system has guided the rapid development of this country.”

Sasho Penov, the colleague of Klara Zakova and Dean of Faculty of Law, Sofia University, also participated in the workshop. This is his fourth visit to China. “China has a new look every time I came here. It is burgeoning. Sasho Penov took the Beijing Planning Exhibition Hall he visited as an example to describe his different feelings. “You can see the changes and development of the city and traffic system in various stages.”

Sasho Penov, who has visited Beijing, Shanghai, Xiamen, Guangzhou and other cities, is not only very interested in Chinese history and has read many books about Chinese history, but also follows the development of contemporary China. “I have read the Bulgarian version of excerpts of The Chinese Dream of the Great Rejuvenation of the Chinese Nation by President Xi Jinping. I think the Chinese dream, which has so much strength, is the goal and task of contemporary China.” Sasho Penov said.

“Chinese Is First Foreign Language in school”

Before coming to China, Olga Yalamova, President of Private Secondary School “Evlogi and Hristo Georgievi”, had already cooperated with the Confucius Institute of St. Methodius University of Veliko Turnovo. “One of our Chinese teachers came from the Confucius Institute. It is the support of the Confucius Institute that facilitates the smooth running of our Chinese language teaching.” Auge Yalamova said, “Students in grade one of primary school have passed HSK level 1.”

The Private Secondary School “Evlogi and Hristo Georgievi” was established in 2015. The idea of establishing the school came from the husband of Auge Yalamova. “He is engaged in the financial industry. Seeing the rapid development of China and the growing popularity of Chinese, He wants to set up a school where Chinese is the first foreign language to help young people get more job opportunities in the future.” said Auge Yalamova.

At present, there are eight classes in the Private Secondary School “Evlogi and Hristo Georgievi”. The youngest student is 5 years old. Primary school students have 10 Chinese classes per week. Chinese classes will be added to 18 per week for secondary school students. “Parents send their children to our school for we offer Chinese classes.” Auge Yalamova hoped that students can study in China after graduation and serve as a bridge for exchanges between China and Bulgaria.

Raya Mateva, Deputy Mayor of Targovishte city, also saw the popularity of Chinese language.

We have carried out extensive cooperation with Confucius Institute at St. Methodius University of Veliko Turnovo which is the strong backing for the development of Chinese language teaching. There are 3 kindergartens and 1 middle school in our city offering Chinese language classes. At the kindergarten stage, parents decide what foreign language their children will learn. More and more parents prefer their children to learn Chinese.” According to Raya Mateva, the municipal government of Targovishte has also provided many support for Chinese teaching, such as offering accommodation for Chinese teachers.

Iskra's observation also confirmed the feelings of the two members: “In the past, English is the first foreign language in most schools. But nowadays, it has given way to Chinese.

According to data from the Ministry of Education and Science of Bulgaria, more than 20 primary and secondary schools in Bulgaria currently offer Chinese language courses, with nearly 800 primary and secondary school learners.

“Learning Chinese, Understanding Chinese culture”

The members of the workshop believed that language and culture are inseparable, which means that promotion of Chinese culture is equally important. The development goal set by the Private Secondary School “Evlogi and Hristo Georgievi” is to teach Chinese and Chinese culture for a long-term. At the same time, it will offer training courses related to HSK and follow-up study and training programs for students who will go to China in the future.

According to Olga Yalamova, the school has often organized Chinese cultural activities. Especially on Chinese traditional festivals such as the Spring Festival and the Mid-Autumn Festival, the school organizes students to make dumplings and moon cakes. “Teachers will teach paper cutting, calligraphy and other skills to help students not only to learn Chinese but also Chinese culture.”

Chinese cultural activities organized by the Targovishte city are popular among the local people. “All citizens will participate if we run these activities in a more extensive scale.” Raya Mateva said, “Cultural activities have become a window for Bulgarian people to understand China.”

Neyko Genchev also learned Chinese culture through overseas Chinese living in Bulgaria. “Chinese people are very hardworking and kind-hearted. This is also in line with my understanding of ancient Chinese philosophy.”

He thought that the public should know China not only as an ancient civilization with a long history and splendid culture, but also a country growing rapidly in such a short time.

A set of “encyclopedia” on Chinese culture, art and poetry is included in the publishing plan for the next year of Faber Press. “This is in line with the market demand—people want to know about China. However, Chinese culture has its own integral parts. At present, it seems that people know much about China’s history and not enough about contemporary China, which is one of our future work directions.” Neyko Genchev said.

(Story by Zhao Xiaoxia, photos by Beijing Language and Culture University, People’s Daily Overseas Edition, Page 9, August 3rd, 2018)

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