Confucius Institute Strengthens Momentum of China-Burundi Relations

[Source]    mrdx.xinhuanet.com [Time]    2019-03-27 15:59:36 
 

Chinese Ambassador to Burundi, Li Changlin

Since last December, the Chinese Embassy in Burundi and the Government of Burundi have held a series of cultural and sports activities to celebrate the 55th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Burundi. Zhao Heran, Zhao Chenxing and Zhu Lina, volunteers of Confucius Institute, sang two songs “She is Like the Sunset” and “Hello, Burundi” in Kirundi in such activities as the special performance of Zhejiang Wu troupe in Burundi, the football matches and receptions held by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Burundi, President Pierre Nkurunziza’s visit to the Embassy with his family for congratulation of Chinese New Year and the establishment of diplomatic relations, which caused a sensation and made the Burundi audiences delighted and excited. Later, the video of the two songs was widely spread across the country through various media. It became the main topic of the conversation between the Chinese and the Burundians and played a special role in bringing the people of China and Burundi closer to each other and deepening the relationship between China and Burundi.

“She is Like the Sunset” and “Hello, Burundi” recall youth love and praise the beautiful scenery of Burundi, which most Burundians are familiar with. During the Spring Festival, President Pierre Nkurunziza watched the video of the songs when he came to the Embassy. He told me that he had heard about that the volunteers of the Confucius Institute learned to sing local songs and asked me to convey his gratitude to the Confucius Institute for its work in promoting the integration of local culture of Chinese in Burundi and cultural exchanges between China and Burundi. At the beginning of last September, Joseph Butore, Second Vice President of Burundi, attended the China-Africa Cooperation Forum Beijing Summit and specifically described the scene of Confucius Institute volunteers’ performance at the opening ceremony of the University of Burundi to Chinese leaders. He said that Burundians knew the Chinese girls through video and they were already great stars. Evariste Ndayishimiye, General Secretary of the ruling party in Burundi, specially made a phone call and said that we were completely touched by the friendly gestures to the Burundians. They sang exactly like the Burundians. The Burundians are always China’s good friends. The envoys of other countries in Burundi told me that the performance of the Chinese girls was very exciting. You are very creative in your work and we should learn from you.

The Confucius Institute at the University of Burundi was founded in March 2012 and was co-organized by Bohai University, Liaoning, and the University of Burundi. Now, Chinese classes are offered in vaarious universities and colleges and major middle schools in the capital Bujumbura, and Chinese is also taught in the Agricultural College of the University of Burundi in ntara ya Gitega, with about 6,000 students. The number of students studying in Burundi will continue to rise because people are optimistic about China’s development prospects, and believe that China will bring more opportunities to them, and increasingly realize that “missing China is missing the future”. Especially, sending children to study in China has become the best choice for many parents. In order to meet the conditions for more and more people to learn Chinese, the new-built Confucius Institute teaching building has been completed, which is believed to provide a better learning environment for Chinese students.

Over the years, the Embassy and the Confucius Institute jointly planned a series of major events, such as “Confucius Institute Open Day”, “Chinese Bridge” and “Spring Festival Gala of Confucius Institute”, which formed several influential brand activities, expanded the influence of the Confucius Institute, and effectively matched the external activities of the Embassy. The Embassy went to the Confucius Institute for several times to investigate how to use the functions of the Confucius Institute and do something practical to enhance people-to-people bond. Through full communication with teachers and volunteers, we decided to sing Burundian songs as the first step. Practice has proved that singing Burundi songs has become a lubricant for promoting the relationship between China and Burundi and has been widely praised by the Burundians.

President Xi Jinping pointed out that “State-to-state relations thrive when there is friendship between the peoples. And such friendship grows out of close interactions between the peoples.” The Confucius Institute teaches local people Chinese, spreads Chinese culture, and fully respects local culture, striving to achieve mutual understanding. Burundi is a country in the middle and east of Africa. The Burundians have two very proud things: one is the national unified language, Kirundi, and the other is the drum performance which is listed as the world’s intangible cultural heritage. In recent years, the Government of Burundi has taken various measures to protect the Kirundi language which is a symbol that best reflects the cultural identity of Burundi.

We attach great importance to the cultural characteristics of Burundi and encourage Chinese in Burundi to learn about local cultural customs and to increase their friendliness with Burundians. I have said on various occasions that Beijing Foreign Studies University is planning to open Kirundi course and in the future Chinese diplomats can also communicate with Burundians in Kirundi. In response, the Burundi official newspaper New Life quickly issued an editorial to praise China’s move. Every time the domestic literary and art groups came to Burundi, we included the Burundi drum performances and the local songs sung by the volunteers of Confucius Institute in the programs. This kind of performance that integrates the culture of China and Burundi was highly recognized by the Burundi audience. Ezéchiel Nibigira, Foreign Minister of Burundi, has repeatedly expressed to me that China, as a major country, respects Burundi. The efforts of volunteers of the Confucius Institute to learn the Kirundi songs are the best embodiment. They walked into the hearts of the Burundians and moved the Burundians, which will have far-reaching implications for further deepening the friendship between the two peoples and enhancing relations between the two countries.

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