Bridge of Friendship Linking China and Africa

[Source]     [Time]    2018-08-29 09:30:32 

“I had a new understanding of China-Africa relations after hearing Professor He’s lecture,” noted Ming Xu from Nigeria, after the two-hour lecture delivered by He Wenping, a researcher of Institute of West-Asian and African Studies, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

Ming said, “This lecture touches me deeply. I hope I could conduct further research on this issue after coming back to Nigeria.”

Opening ceremony of China-Africa Youth Summer Camp

On August 20th, the China-Africa Youth Summer Camp under the theme of “China-Africa Friendship, Youthful Aspirations”, which was sponsored by the Confucius Institute Headquarters (Hanban) and organized by Beijing Language and Culture University (BLCU), was attended by 300 young people from 10 Chinese universities and 23 African countries.

In the four-day summer camp themed language and cultural heritance, diverse civilization learning, and contemporary China-Africa development, the campers had jointly completed cultural research and studies from five different perspectives, namely, education, culture, economy and trade, science and technology, and music, and fully experienced the charm of the Chinese culture and built a bridge of friendship between Chinese and African youth through communication.

“China’s Solid Support”

“African young generations are active and willing to think.” This is He Wenping’s impression on Nigerian and Kenyan attendees of the lecture.

The campers had active interaction with He Wenping after hearing the story of the opening of Mombasa–Nairobi Standard Gauge Railway and an introduction to the development of China-Africa relations elaborated from different perspectives.

“I am still unable to give an in-depth description about China-Africa relations based on what I have learnt for now. But Professor He’s lecture intrigues me to learn more about it,” said Ming Xu who came to China for the first time, talking about his impression on China, “Everyone in Nigeria knows Abuja-Kaduna Railway. China helps us advance infrastructure construction, changing the urban landscape in Nigeria.”

Opening ceremony of China-Africa Youth Summer Camp

Indeed, the opening of Abuja-Kaduna Railway puts an end to Nigeria’s history of having no standard gauge railway. Statistics indicated that 16,738 local workers were employed in the construction of this railway, and nearly 150,000 jobs were indirectly created for local community, greatly driving the development of local cement, rebar and asphalt industries. After the opening of this railway, Chinese enterprises have provide all-round skill training and technological support to Nigeria, helping local community train a large group of in-demand talents for railway operation management.

Zhang Xian, Chinese Director of the Confucius Institute at the University of Rwanda-College of Education, who also participated in this summer camp, was deeply touched by the friendliness of local people. “Youngsters told me that China’s assistance, without any attached strings, has brought tangible benefits. They have strong attachment toward China. It is China’s rapid development that attracts them.”

“Rwandan young people not only watch Chinese movies, but also know China’s ‘four major new inventions’.”Upon their arrival in Beijing, over 20 campers led by Zhang Xian went to ride “shared bikes”. “They are extremely excited,” said Zhang.

“I hope China-Africa Youth Friendship Continue”

During this summer camp, 300 Chinese and African young people went together to the Imperial Palace to experience Chinese culture. At the Great Wall, they conducted activities advocating inheritance and protection of cultural heritage, appealing others to contribute to the cultural protection.

The Imperial Palace

Campers feasted their eyes on the lofty royal palaces standing in lines, painted beams and carved pillars at the Imperial Palace. Their presence also brought different vitality to the imperial city.

Several Cameroonian girls gave an impromptu performance of traditional African dance, attracting numerous tourists in the Palace. Other campers also interacted with Chinese tourists and had fun in taking group photos and selfies.

Camper Zong Siyu

Zong Siyu, a camper from Tianjin Normal University, expressed that “Seeing brothers and sisters from Kenya dance and sing at the Forbidden City, we can feel their genuine enthusiasm. I think that one of the purposes of this summer camp is to share the joy and pleasure with more people.”

African camper Xiang Zuyan

Xiang Zuyan, who came from Mozambique, said excitedly, “I will definitely suggest my friends to visit the Imperial Palace if they come to China. This is an amazing trip. The traditional buildings here are so magnificent and gorgeous. It is hard to imagine that Chinese people could build such majestic palaces with wood several hundred years ago… I hope I could participate in such cultural exchange activities more often in the future to continue China-Africa youth friendship!”

Chinese and African youth proposing at the Great Wall

At the Great Wall, Chinese and African young people, driven by responsibility for history and respect for culture, jointly proposed a declaration entitled “Civilization Inheritance, Youth Responsibilities: Initiative on Learning and Protecting World Cultural Heritage”, demonstrating Chinese and African youths’ sense of responsibility and willingness to contribute to cultural protection cause through practical actions.

Xiong Yiyi from Chongqing Normal University noted, “The most direct way for young generations to promote human and cultural communications between China and Africa is to become a volunteer Chinese teacher in Africa and an envoy of cultural exchanges between China and Africa.”

Antonio from Equatorial Guinea expressed that “Like the declaration for preservation of cultural relics we have signed, the Great Wall, as a bright pearl of world civilization, should be fully protected and renovated. Only in this way can the Chinese civilization continue and can we introduce such a great landscape to the next generation.”

“I Will Encourage My Children to Learn Chinese”

It was the first time for many campers from Africa to come to China. They said this trip broadened their horizon.

A camper recording what he saw in China with camera

Starting shooting when the plane landed in Beijing, photographer Ming Xu hoped to use the camera to record what he saw in China. He said that his experience in China was out of expectation despite the certain knowledge he had about the country before this trip.

“China is developing at a fast pace. Meanwhile, it is also a country with a long history. I am eager to learn more about Chinese people and Chinese culture, and to speak in fluent Chinese. After going back to my own country, I would like to spend more time learning Chinese. If I have children in the future, I will encourage them to learn Chinese,” said Ming Xu.

Campers taking a group photo at the Great Wall

He Mei is from Rwanda, and what impressed her most are the friendly Chinese people and the tempting Chinese cuisine. She said, “The Chinese are very friendly. They have delicious food in a rich variety, especially the noodles.” Currently majoring in Business Information and Technology at the University of Rwanda, she hoped to go to Beijing Language and Culture University for further study.”

Chen Andong from Kenya, like He Mei, also hopes to apply for a scholarship in the future “to study in China”. He said he had gained much through the lectures and enticing Chinese cuisine in this summer camp.

Camper Anthony donating his blood

Camper Anthony expressed his love for China in a special way. When he visited Wudaokou, he boarded a blood donation car outside a shopping mall. He said, “I hope to offer some help in this way.”

“I Can Feel Chinese People’s Enthusiasm”

In the cultural study and training, the campers of the Chinese and African music art group came to the Mei Lanfang Theatre and the National Centre for the Performing Arts to experience the charm of traditional Chinese art.

At the Mei Lanfang Theatre

In the Mei Lanfang small theatre, African students sang English songs, and Sudanese students Ma Lan and Ling Lan sang “Beijing Opera Masks”, which won rounds of applause. Later, the campers visited Qianmen Street and the Place to experience the prosperity of the business district and appreciate the architecture style of the old Beijing buildings.

Henry from Nigeria said, “I have seen many Chinese films which not only promote the popularity of Chinese teaching, but also help the African people to know about China. Through this summer camp, I felt the enthusiasm of the Chinese people.”

Campers playing the diabolo

Ling Lan, a Sudanese student, believed that traditional Chinese music is beautiful and elegant. She likes Chinese traditional culture very much and hopes to have an opportunity to learn Chinese calligraphy.

In the process of cultural study and training, Chinese and African students not only deepened their understanding of Chinese music, dance and other forms of art, but also conducted discussions and communication on issues such as China-Africa art exchanges.

“Learning Chinese Brings Bright Future”

Most of the campers from Africa are students of the local Confucius Institutes and learning Chinese makes them fall in love with China and get closer to China.

For Li Kesi, “Learning Chinese offers a great future and prospect.” The Confucius Institute at the University of Lagos in Nigeria is not only a place for her to learn Chinese, but also a window to understand China. “It’s the experience of learning Chinese at the Confucius Institute at the University of Lagos that offered me the opportunity to study at Beijing Institute of Technology.”

Campers watching martial arts performance

Li Kesi has extended her stay in China again because of the charm of Chinese culture. She chose to stay after her half-year Chinese study, which began in September last year. She said, “I want more than just to learn Chinese, I want to know more about Chinese culture. Only in this way can I understand China.”

In September this year, Li Kesi will go to the Capital Normal University to study TCSOL (Teaching Chinese to Speakers of Other Languages). In addition, she also signed herself for the guqin (Chinese zither) class. She said, “I hope to learn more about the profound Chinese culture within limited time.”

Campers rolling the iron loop

Zhang Xian still remembers the scenes in the Confucius Institute at the University of Rwanda-College of Education when the students were singing the songs of “Great China” with affection. “They have integrated their love for China into the song. Our teacher not only taught them to sing Chinese songs, but also explained the meaning of the lyrics.”

According to Zhang Xian, there are currently about 5,000 registered students at the Confucius Institute at the University of Rwanda-College of Education. In addition to the headquarters the Confucius Institute at the University of Rwanda, there are 13 other Confucius Institute teaching sites in university campuses, local secondary schools, as well as Chinese-funded enterprises and institutions in Rwanda.

“Several teaching centers were established at their requests. The ability to speak Chinese is an advantage in the job market,” Zhang Xian said.

Yu Tianqi, Deputy Secretary of the Party Committee, Secretary of Committee for Discipline Inspection of Hanban (Confucius Institute Headquarters), delivering a speech at the opening ceremony

Yu Tianqi, Deputy Secretary of the Party Committee and Secretary of Committee for Discipline Inspection of Hanban (Confucius Institute Headquarters), pointed out in the opening speech of the China-Africa Youth Summer Camp that the Confucius Institute plays a unique role in promoting cultural exchanges and cooperation between China and Africa, advancing friendship among African people, and building a community with a shared future between China and Africa.

She hoped that the campers of this China-Africa Youth Summer Camp will deepen their understanding of China through this activity, and also bring their cultures to China, so as to further enhance mutual understanding and communication with their enthusiasm and become the folk messengers of China-Africa friendship as well as the backbone of the future China-Africa exchanges.

She said that the 2018 Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation will be held this autumn. The friendly and cooperative relations between China and Africa will be elevated to a new stage and enter a new era, providing new opportunities for the development of the Confucius Institute.

(Source: People’s Daily, Division of Confucius Institute Development of Beijing Language and Culture University)


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