Exclusive Interview: Confucius Institutes Strengthen Mutual Understanding and Cooperation Between China and Egypt
——Interview with Hassan Ragab, Director of Confucius Institute at Suez Canal University

[Source]    xinhuanet.com [Time]    2018-08-29 09:43:41 
 

Hassan Ragab, Director of the Confucius Institute at Suez Canal University, said in an exclusive interview with Xinhua News Agency that Confucius Institutes have strengthened mutual understanding and cooperation between Chinese and Egyptian people.

Suez Canal University is located in Ismailia, a city on the west bank of the Suez Canal. In 2016, Hassan Ragab became Egyptian Director of the Confucius Institute at Suez Canal University and Dean of the Faculty of Languages. Students prefer calling him “Professor Da Hai” because his Chinese name is Da Hai. Hassan said that there are more and more students learning Chinese language now, making Chinese Language Studies a popular major in the university. In 2018, more than 300 students applied for the Chinese Department in the Faculty of Languages of the Suez Canal University, far exceeding the previously planned enrollment of 30 students. “Egyptian students are eager to understand Chinese language and culture as they see China as a model for developing countries”, he said.

At the end of July, at the invitation of the Confucius Institute Headquarters in China, Hassan led 20 students with the best academic performance in Chinese language from Egyptian high schools to participate in the summer camp which lasted for more than half a month. During this trip to China, they traveled to Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai and other cities, and visited universities such as Nankai University and Beijing Language and Culture University to learn about Chinese literature and culinary culture. “There is an old saying in China that ‘seeing is believing’. You have to be there and see for yourself”, Hassan said.

Hassan told the journalist that there are two Confucius Institutes in Egypt, one at Suez Canal University and the other at Cairo University. The Confucius Institute at Suez Canal University attracts not only students who want to learn Chinese language, but also Egyptians with different academic backgrounds. The Confucius Institute has already offered Chinese courses in the China-Egypt TEDA Suez Economic and Trade Cooperation Zone, the British University in Egypt and Helwan University, with more classes to be opened soon in three other universities.

Hassan said that there are dozens of Chinese companies including those in the Suez Canal Economic Zone in Egypt hire Chinese-speaking Egyptian employees, creating a lot of job opportunities. Those who speak Chinese have clear edges over their competitors in getting a job. In 2017, the Confucius Institute also held a Chinese Companies Recruitment Day, during which 200 Egyptian students were hired.

“As a country gets stronger, its international influence will grow in tandem, and its language will be highly valued by the international community as well”, said Hassan, who highly appreciates China’s policies toward Africa and the Middle East. “The arrival of Chinese companies to Egypt has not only avoided trade barriers, but also stimulated employment in local area, which represents a win-win situation. We must strengthen such cooperation in the future.”

Hassan said that he hopes the two sides will carry out exchanges covering more disciplines and fields in the future. With the increasing number of people who like Chinese language and culture, China’s concept of promoting win-win cooperation will also gain wider recognition.

(Story by Zheng Siyuan, Yu Tao, Xinhua News Agency, Ismailia, Egypt, August 21st, 2018)

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