Stefan Zimmerman

Stefan Zimmerman (Switzerland): “We learned many useful Chinese sentences, such as self-introduction, figure and lines that can be used in shopping. Much to our excitement, we went to Xiushui Street to use what we learned just now. Very useful. Some even bought many products within two hours!”

By Cheng Ye
本刊记者 程也
Photography
by Stefan Zimmerman
Hello, everyone, my name is Stefan and my Chinese name is Shi Defan. I was born in Switzerland and now live in Xue Li, which isn’t ‘snow pear’, but Sydney in Australia…” Stefan Zimmerman spoke with fervor and assurance at the graduation ceremony of Chinese language training course. His fluent Chinese and naughty smile made the audience laugh and applaud now and then.

At the beginning, Stefan studied Japanese and became a Japanese teacher after graduation. Later, he discovered that there are many Chinese people learning Japanese. Through exchanges with them, he became interested in Chinese language and culture unknowingly. Then he resorted to original edition of Chinese language teaching materials of Hanban, China. Though he changed his focus from Japanese to Chinese, he feels no great difficulty under strong interest. Training in Beijing enhanced his Chinese language proficiency significantly: “we learned many useful Chinese sentences, such as self-introduction, figure and lines that can be used in shopping. Much to our excitement, we went to Xiushui Street to use what we learned just now. Very useful. Some even bought many products within two hours!”

It’s not Stefan’s first time in Beijing. But walking on the street, he still gazes around very excitedly. He said that his deepest impression of Beijing in the 1990s is “bicycle everywhere”, which is replaced by auto now and “Beijing has become a modern and diversified city.” The courses of traditional Chinese culture are also causes for his excitement. “Teachers are very enthusiastic with rich domain knowledge. We’ve visited the most famous scenic spots in Beijing. I’ll never forget the Forbidden City and the Great Wall. These courses become my enjoyable trip to Chinese culture.”

Stefan Zimmerman

With slow and stretching movement, Tai Chi boxing practice offers Stefan an opportunity to experience Chinese culture. He learns Tai Chi boxing from a master in a serious manner; in addition, he likes practicing Tai Chi boxing with town people doing morning exercises in the park.

Stefan Zimmerman

A Peking Opera class was especially unforgettable for Stefan as the teacher drew facial makeup on his face, making him a figure in the story of Farewell to My Concubine.

Stefan Zimmerman

Colorful traditional Chinese costumes attract people to experience a time travel. Stefan and other Chinese language learners dressed up and took a group photo .

Stefan Zimmerman

Stefan exhibited a strong interest in audiovisuals for Chinese language learning.

Stefan Zimmerman

The participation in Chinese language training course in Beijing improves Stefan’s Chinese proficiency a lot, providing him with an access to learn more Chinese culture.

Stefan Zimmerman

Stefan likes historic buildings in Beijing. Both folk houses made of gray wall and soil eave and magnificent Imperial City impressed him deeply.

Stefan Zimmerman

As the “fan” of Confucius, Stefan hurriedly came up for a group photo when seeing the Confucius Statute in the Grand Forum of Hanban.

Stefan Zimmerman

Chinese elements are Stefan’s best love. His trip in Nantian Temple near Sydney makes him think of his trip in China.


Confucius Institute Magazine 20

pdfPublished in Confucius Institute Magazine
Magazine 20. Volume 3. May 2012.
View/Download the print issue in PDF

Mukesh Kumar Verma

Mukesh Kumar Verma, Indian: “China and India are very similar in aspects such as traditional culture, lifestyle, interpersonal relations and family relations, which provide great possibilities for collaboration between the two countries”.

What’s China really like in the eyes of foreigners? Which parts of Chinese culture are the most attractive? What are their personal experiences while learning Chinese language? Are there any touching stories that happened to them during their stay in China? You will find the answers here. After reading the following stories, don’t you have the desire to pick up your pen and put down something in Chinese about things around you?

By Mukesh Kumar Verma, Indian, “Confucius China Studies Program” PhD student

Everyone has their dream and I am no exception: my dream is to become an expert in Chinese and Indian economics, so that I can help the two economies to have more cooperation, and thus make my own contributions.

There are many similarities between India and China, among the most significant being that we are both very ancient civilizations and that we both have large populations. It is no easy task to develop a country which is vast in size, and high in population, with such a long history, but while I was doing my Master’s degree in China I witnessed China’s development firsthand. China’s rapid economic development really surprised me, so I wanted to stay in China for longer and to spend more time there in order to know more about it. Later, I returned to China to continue my studies. My friends and my family all told me how difficult it was to do a PhD in another country, because I would have to be completely focused on and dedicated to my studies. Although I was prepared psychologically before coming to China, it wasn’t until I began my studies that I realized the pressure was greater than I had imagined. The requirements for a PhD program are very high, and I was not alone in feeling this way, as all of the other PhD students were undergoing a great challenge. At first I was not very accustomed to life as a student in China, but my enthusiastic teachers and classmates helped me eventually get used to it, for which I am very grateful.

Mukesh Kumar Verma

The help I received from my supervisor and my classmates allowed me to learn many new skills, such as how to write PhD papers. I had previously written papers when I was doing my Master’s degree, but it was for a different major, so in my first semester of the PhD program writing papers and essays was tough for me. However, the teachers at Sichuan University helped me develop my skills, and thus I was able to achieve great progress in my major.

Aside from economics, I’m also very interested in Chinese culture. Knowing this, my supervisor introduced a taijiquan teacher to me, Mr. Yang Xiaoling, so that I could experience the wonder of Chinese culture during my regular studies. Mr. Yang is a sixthgeneration successor of Yang-style taiji , and he taught me health promotion methods and traditional taijiquan . In my spare time I also explored the beautiful scenic sites that Sichuan has to offer, such as Jiuzhaigou and Leshan. At these places I learned about the mysterious religion of Tibetan Buddhism, and on the way there I also felt the sadness and pains of the families affected by the Wenchuan Earthquake. These memories left me a deep impression, and helped strengthen my understanding of China.

Mukesh Kumar Verma

China and India are very similar in aspects such as traditional culture, lifestyle, interpersonal relations and family relations, which provide great possibilities for collaboration between the two countries. They are also the two most populous countries in the world, with their total population accounting for over a quarter of the world’s. China is the largest economic power in Asia, and India is the third largest, so I think if the economies cooperate more with each other, they can potentially become the largest economic partners in the world. I always ask myself, “One day will I be able to take the train or drive from Delhi or Kolkata to Chengdu, Shanghai and Beijing? Will I be able to fly directly from my hometown to Chengdu and other cities throughout China? Will Chinese and Indian tourists be able to travel to the other country without the need for a tourist visa? ” I hope that China and India, two great civilizations, can be as close as brothers, and that in the 21st and 22nd centuries more and more people will travel between the countries, just like the Buddhist monks of ancient China Xuanzang and Faxian.

“China is the largest economic power in Asia, and India is the third largest, so I think if the economies cooperate more with each other, they can potentially become the largest economic partners in the world.”

The “Belt and Road” Initiative that China is currently implementing is the reincarnation of the ancient Silk Road; it will not only benefit the people and enterprises of China but also bring many development opportunities to countries along the route, and even the adjacent countries, and will contribute greatly to the future of the world. I hope that more Indians will come study in China, and after completing their studies will become envoys of friendship and culture, like bridges for the two countries’ development. I wish to become such a person. I also hope that more Chinese people will go study in India, so that the two countries may assist each other in their development. I believe that the “Belt and Road” Initiative signifies not only China’s dream of great rejuvenation, but also my dream, and even the dream of the whole world, since it will lead the world to a future full of hope and opportunity.


Confucius Institut Magazine 49

Published in Confucius Institute Magazine
Number 49.
 Volume II. March 2017.

Sohei Shinka

Mr. Sohei Shinka, Chairman of Board of Trustees of the Chinese Medicine Confucius Institute at Hyogo College of Medicine (CMCI at HCM) in Japan: “Chinese culture is the elder brother of Japanese culture, and I believe sowing the seed of Traditional Chinese Medicine in young Japanese doctors trained in Western medicine will certainly play an important role in the future.”

By Liang Yongxuan
梁永宣 
At the Confucius Institute Conference held in Kunming on 10 December 2016, a greyhaired but hale gentleman received the “Confucius Institute Individual Performance Excellence Award of the Year” from Chinese Vice Premier Liu Yandong. He is the 86-year-old Mr. Sohei Shinka, Chairman of Board of Trustees of the Chinese Medicine Confucius Institute at Hyogo College of Medicine (CMCI at HCM) in Japan.

Mr. Shinka graduated from the Faculty of Medicine of Osaka University, specializing in immunology. Under the influence of his brother, who studies Chinese history, he has read extensively Chinese classics including the works of Confucius, Mencius, Laozi and Xunzi, and has thereby gained a wide knowledge of Buddhism, Confucianism and Taoism. He is so familiar with The Analects of Confucius that he often unwittingly quotes from the book during conversations. For example, when talking about Sino-foreign relationshe cited from The Analects of Confucius: Li Ren: “ If you are virtuous, you will not be lonely. Instead, you will always have friends.” when speaking of life experience, he quoted, “At sixty, my ear was an obedient organ for the reception of truth.” He also intensively reads traditional Japanese literature and Chinese poems and studies calligraphy, Go and Shogi.

Sohei Shinka

Mr. Shinka was excited when he was informed that Hyogo College of Medicine was approved to jointly prepare for the establishment of CMCI together with Beijing University of Chinese Medicine. Although he was over eighty, he went to Confucius Institute Headquarters in Beijing and the Chinese partner institution many times to communicate with them. Everyone who has had contact with him is touched by his intense fondness of traditional Oriental culture and his wish to integrate traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) with Western medicine to cure diseases and save more patients.

In 2012, his wish finally came true. On 9 November that year, the Chinese Medicine Confucius Institute, jointly established by Beijing University of Chinese Medicine and Hyogo College of Medicine, officially began operations. Mr. Shinka soon established the Board of Trustees and invited the presidents of Hyogo College of Medicine and Hyogo University of Health Sciences as well as other leading officials of the two universities to hold important posts of the Board. Therefore, decisions of the Board naturally become those of the universities, leaving out lots of procedures for examination and approval.

When CMCI arranged for students to participate in the winter camp at Beijing University of Chinese Medicine from 2013, Mr. Shinka decided to have the college pay for the students’ return tickets. He has always supported this program, because in his opinion, “Young Japanese people don’t know China, and they can only truly understand her cultural charm by visiting this country and experiencing everything there in person.” 

Both administrative and academic activities are on the increase with the establishment of CMCI. Considering that Mr. Shinka is responsible for the administration of two universities and a large hospital with 3,618 employees and 962 beds, one can imagine how busy he is every day. Nevertheless, he will, however occupied he is, put the activities of CMCI on the top agenda and give them high priority immediately when they are presented to him.

On 9 January 2016, when he learned that CMCI, Kyoto University and the Research Department of Medical History of Kitasato University Oriental Medicine Research Center would jointly hold the International Forum on Traditional Medicine, he immediately gave up his weekend and spent over three hours travelling from Osaka to Tokyo to assist the Chinese and Japanese directors of CMCI in publicizing the Confucius Institute. It was already midnight when he took the last Shinkansen back to Osaka after attending the gathering according to the Japanese etiquette. On the second day, however, he made appearance in another event on time.

When CMCI arranged for students to participate in the winter camp at Beijing University of Chinese Medicine from 2013, Mr. Shinka decided to have the college pay for the students’ return tickets. He has always supported this program, because in his opinion, “Young Japanese people don’t know China, and they can only truly understand her cultural charm by visiting this country and experiencing everything there in person.” Mr. Shinka attaches great importance to the students’ report meeting when they are back in Japan. He always goes to the meeting early that day, listens with relish to students talking about their feelings of learning TCM and excitedly exchanges his own ideas with the students. The expression of enjoyment on his face looks as if he had been to the camp himself. He also encourages the students to pay attention to such phenomena as differences between TCM and Western medicine and to learn from the strengths of TCM. He often says, “Chinese culture is the elder brother of Japanese culture, and I believe sowing the seed of TCM in young Japanese doctors trained in Western medicine will certainly play an important role in the future.”

The Japanese government abolished Han medicine after the Meiji Restoration in 1868. As a consequence, practitioners of traditional medicine lost their legal status. They have not been recognized as “doctors” so far. In this context, therefore, publicizing traditional Chinese medicine is beset with difficulties.

In support of more students’ study of Chinese medicine, Mr. Shinka has established the Department of Oriental Medicine and added to the regular system of university education such courses as Medical Chinese, Introduction to Oriental Medicine, Therapeutics of Han Medicine, Formulae of Han Medicine, Clinical Therapeutics of Han Medicine and Introduction to Taijiquan. Since 2007, those courses have been taught by Prof. Dai Yi, Japanese Deputy Director of CMCI, which can provide support for the teaching and scientific research and talent cultivation at HCM as well as the exchange and cooperation with Chinese universities by offering Chinese language teaching, hosting cultural and academic lectures, organizing international seminars and supporting cooperative student education and joint publication of research findings. In addition, it can also help students and local citizens to learn Chinese and acquaint themselves with China so as to strengthen mutual understanding and friendship between the two countries. Since 2012, the above courses have been one of the important ways CMCI provides support for HCM. Through the courses, students gradually come to know the basic knowledge of TCM and CMCI. They invite CMCI to take part in the “campus festival” on their own initiative and add the introduction to CMCI into the publicity materials.

With the support of Mr. Shinka, the Institute for Medical Education and Clinical Treatment of HCM, the CMCI and the famous Japanese drug company Tsumura jointly organize six to eight lectures on Han medicine every year. For example, the lectures in 2016 focused on such topics as “Chinese Nobel Laureate”, “Han medicine’s treatment of common and difficult diseases” and “common preparations of Han medicine”. Every lecture saw the active participation of doctors and nurses of the university. Mr. Shinka himself would sit in the first row, listening attentively and sometimes raising questions from the perspective of philosophy for everyone to consider and discuss.

Sohei Shinka

Tu Youyou’s winning the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 2015 inspired the world to have a completely new appraisal of traditional Chinese medicine. Likewise, to make more people truly understand and believe in TCM, more scientific studies should be carried out. To achieve this goal, Mr. Shinka has been adopting another measure since 2013 that the university raises three million yen every year by itself and invites young scholars at universities to bid to undertake scientific research projects of CMCI. Everyone who wins the bid will receive a fund of 500,000 yen. In the past three years, many young scholars have applied for these projects, which mainly focus on such topics as the analysis and curative effects of a single drug or a famous prescription of TCM, or the study on the mechanism of pain treatment in an attempt to explain TCM with modern science. In recent years, there have also been studies on the quality assessment of traditional Chinese medicine of the same variety but from different places. Since those research findings carry the signature of CMCI when published, the name of CMCI has for the first time appeared in the biomedicine database of the United States National Library of Medicine (PubMed). The database has so far included seven SCI papers with the signature of CMCI at HCM.

Sohei Shinka
Student visiting the workplace of Tu Youyou

The Institute for Advanced Medical Sciences of Hyogo University of Health Science and CMCI hold seminars together during the carrying out of those scientific research projects. At the seminars, ancient Chinese medicine meets and collides with contemporary Japanese medicine, the prospects of which are promising.

Mr. Shinka shows special interest in painting. He kept learning oil painting under the guidance of his mother from his childhood and was so deep in love with it that he even hesitated between oil painting and medical science during the entrance examination for his university study. When he held an exhibition of oil paintings at Shinsaibashi in Osaka in August 2016, he pointed to his own work and told the visitors, “My dream after retirement is to showcase and popularize the knowledge of traditional Chinese medicine in my paintings”.


ic_ENG_50

Published in Confucius Institute Magazine
Number 50.
 Volume III. May 2017.

Li Qian (Germany): “When they told me “I like your class,” I felt an intense happiness, which is surely a lifelong remembrance”.

Currently there are over 4,000 Chinese language teachers and volunteers teaching Chinese in Confucius Institutes, primary and secondary schools and universities throughout the world. While spreading Chinese language and culture, these cultural envoys personally experienced exchanges and interactions with different teaching practices and other cultures. The column of Teachers’ Voices is a channel where Chinese language teachers and volunteers can share their teaching experience with each other. There will also be a collection of stories on their unique experiences in foreign lands these cultural envoys can share with our readers.

Li Qian, Volunteer Chinese Teacher at Auguste-Viktoria Gymnasium, Germany

The October sun shines on the Mosel Valley, a striking­ly beautiful picture. On the train heading from Bonn to Trier, the passengers, Ger­mans or foreigners, are all fascinated by the gorgeous landscape and amazed at the spectacle of nature. My trip in Ger­many started here.

The Auguste-Viktoria-Gymnasium, where I work, is one of the best middle schools in Trier. It is less than one year since the students there began learning Chinese, so the school employs quiz­zes and colorful flashcards as the main teaching methods to stimulate students’ interest in Chinese. As a Chinese teacher, my job is to introduce the background of Chinese culture in order to help them better understand China. The students always show great interest and take ac­tive part in the class.

Lovable students always add joy to my life on this foreign land.
Lovable students always add joy to my life on this foreign land.

I also teach students from Chinese families. These students are much younger and more active. It is almost impossible to keep them quiet during the class. Therefore, I conduct the class through lively activities. After they fin­ish required exercises, I let them play games, which are related to Chinese lan­guage and suitable for their age, so that they can learn Chinese in a relaxed and entertaining atmosphere. For instance, I ask the students to “open” a store of their own and decide the store’s name, the commodities and the prices themselves. They are both owners and customers

at other students’ shops. The teacher is a Chinese customer so the shop “own­ers” will have to promote their goods to the Chinese customer in Chinese. The student, with the largest earnings, is the winner. I was surprised at their creativity. A student designed a lamp store called Lichtgeist, meaning “light spirit,” and pro­moted to his class­mates his imaginary lamps in the shapes of spirits. I took the chance to teach them the frequently used expressions of bargaining. The stu­dents can remember these expressions more easily in the environment of games. They like the games and feel rather free in such an atmosphere. The games have also brought us closer. When they told me “I like your class,” I felt an intense happiness, which is surely a lifelong re­membrance.

As a volunteer Chinese teacher, my job is not limited to imparting knowledge of the language; it is also my responsibility to propagate Chinese culture and help the world understand China through my own actions.

Almost all the volunteer Chinese teachers have other duties besides regu­lar classes – giving lectures on China or making comments in German teachers’ classes on China. From the questions that the German teachers and students raise, I can see their enthusiasm and eagerness to know the whole picture of China. However, their knowledge of China is very limited due to the unbal­anced media reports about China. When I take time to explain the actual situation, they attentively lis­ten and then discuss their questions with me. After my lec­tures, many students say they would like to visit China and see how different the real China is from their imagination.

07_teachers_voices-2

In Trier live many overseas Chinese. Since the Confucius Institute at Trier University was established, the Chinese learning resources have been further expanded and the teaching of Chinese language has a bright future. As a volun­teer Chinese teacher, I enjoy the colorful experience and it is here that I begin the journey of my future professional life.


Confucius Institute Magazine 7

Published in Confucius Institute Magazine
Magazine 07. Volume II. March 2010.

Waist drums

The waist drum performance in north Shaanxi Province has strong and masculine rhythm, which is suitable for the campus atmosphere. Therefore, Ms. Dai, who has been teaching Chinese language at St. Louis University High School for years, built there a waist drum performance troupe.

Photography by Dr. Tai Ching-ling, Confucius Classroom at St. Louis University High School, US

By Cheng Ye
本刊记者 程也
The red ribbons around the drum sticks danced up and down like flames. While the rhythmic drum music sounded on the stage, the hearts of audience echoed pleasantly with it. A boy student said to his classmates excitedly, “Cool! I want to learn how to play the Chinese waist drum.” At this time, Dr. Tai Ching-ling, the teacher at Confucius Classroom in St. Louis University High School, was watching the waist drum performance closely by looking through the curtains at the back of the stage. This was a debut performance made by her student drum troupe.

Ms. Dai has been teaching Chinese language at St. Louis University High School for years. During these years, she has kept considering how to help her students experience the Chinese culture in person. The waist drum performance in north Shaanxi Province has strong and masculine rhythm, which is suitable for the campus atmosphere. Therefore, Ms. Dai asked her friend to purchase waist drums from China and built a waist drum performance troupe.

Many students were present on the first day when the drum course was given. However, they found it was not easy to control the small waist drum, so most of them wanted to give up. Seeing this, Ms. Dai kept encouraging them and introduced them to Chinese drum culture. Gradually, the drum beat became unified and the troupe started to grow.

waist drums
When waiting to get onto the stage, the students were busy practicing playing the drum and changing the formation.

 

waist drums
Receiving waist drum training and experiencing the Chinese culture in person.

 

waist drums
The waist drum performance troupe showed up on the stage celebrating the Chinese Dragon Year. Their presence was warmly cheered.

 

waist drums
The presence of waist drum troupe captured great attention in the Chinese Culture Days activity in St. Louis.

 

waist drums
While teaching some Chinese during the waist drum practice, Ms. Dai also introduces the Chinese customs of some traditional  festivals in China. This has aroused their keen interest in learning the Chinese language.

 

Ms. Dai is able to tell the name of each student in the waist drum performance troupe in this boys’ school. She is called the Chinese Mum by the students.
Ms. Dai is able to tell the name of each student in the waist drum performance troupe in this boys’ school. She is called the Chinese Mum by the students.

 

The Chinese Club initiated by Ms. Dai organizes diverse activities and many students work as volunteers here.
The Chinese Club initiated by Ms. Dai organizes diverse activities and many students work as volunteers here.

 

The students in the waist drum performance troupe are showing more interest in Chinese language learning.
The students in the waist drum performance troupe are showing more interest in Chinese language learning.

 

The students like experiencing the Chinese culture in the Confucius Classroom. The colorful Peking Opera facial masks are favorites of young boys.
The students like experiencing the Chinese culture in the Confucius Classroom. The colorful Peking Opera facial masks are favorites of young boys.

Confucius Institute Magazine 23

pdfPublished in Confucius Institute Magazine
Number 23 Volume VI. November 2012.
View the PDF print edition

Niyazmuradov lkhtiyor Bahtiyorovich

Niyazmuradov lkhtiyor Bahtiyorovich, Uzbekistan: “Chinese may be one of the most difficult languages, but if we study it diligently, then we are sure to get the hang of it. I also use little stories to teach about Chinese culture, such as how every chengyu (four-character idiom) has its own origin, so I’ll tell them about where the chengyu came from”.

What’s China really like in the eyes of foreigners? Which parts of Chinese culture are the most attractive? What are their personal experiences while learning Chinese language? Are there any touching stories that happened to them during their stay in China? You will find the answers here. After reading the following stories, don’t you have the desire to pick up your pen and put down something in Chinese about things around you?

By Niyazmuradov lkhtiyor Bahtiyorovich, Uzbekistan, Liaoning Normal. University Confucius Institute scholarship student.

When I was a child growing up in Uzbekistan, there was a period of time when my legs would often be sore, so my grandmother took me to the Andijan area, where there was lots of sand, and after putting my legs in the warm sand, I found the pain disappear. “What’s so special about the sand here?” I asked my grandmother in puzzlement. She told me that long ago a Chinese emperor’s daughter was sick, so he sent an envoy to travel along the Silk Road and retrieve the secret cure for her: sand. The envoy journeyed far and wide, and eventually found the precious sand. Just when he arrived at Andijan, a messenger from the emperor told him that the emperor’s daughter had already passed away, so the sand would be of no use. The envoy left the sand in Andijan, and returned to China. Later, many local Uzbeks discovered the incredible healing effects that the sand had on back and leg pains. Soon enough word got around, people from other parts of Uzbekistan who had similar problems flocked to Andijan for treatment. The effects were incredible, and this country with this amazing sand recipe must be mysterious too. What kind of place was China? I wondered in amazement.

Niyazmuradov lkhtiyor Bahtiyorovich
Experiencing the charm of Beijing Opera

My grandmother noticed that I was interested in China, so she told me some stories about the country. Among them was the story of Farhad and Shirin by the Uzbek writer Ali-Shir Nava’i. In this Romeo and Juliet – style love story, Prince Farhad falls in love at first sight of the Armenian Princess Shirin. My grandmother told me that although Farhad was an Uzbek name, he was actually a prince from China. So Chinese people can have Uzbek names? If that’s the case, then can I have a Chinese name too? My childhood imagination began to grow.

On my ninth birthday, my grandmother gave me a book about Chinese kungfu . I was really into Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan at the time, and one day, without permission, I shaved my head and drew some dots on it, then put on a Shaolin-style robe, and imitated the martial arts moves from the book. Next to each of the images were some squarish-looking pictures. Huh? What are those? They didn’t look like Uzbek script, nor were they like English. With my curiosity piqued, I asked my mother, who was a school teacher, what those were, and she told me, “They’re Chinese characters, the script used in China. It’s one of the most difficult languages in the world. Only if you know Chinese will you be able to understand this book.” Wow! So this is the Chinese language! So if I knew Chinese would I be able to give myself a Chinese name? That was when I secretly resolved to learn Chinese.

Niyazmuradov lkhtiyor Bahtiyorovich
Experiencing the charm of Beijing.

Later, when I was accepted into Tashkent State Institute of Oriental Studies, I had an opportunity to study in China. After I returned to my home school I became a Chinese language teacher. Today, every morning after I get up I practice taijiquan , then I go online and read the Chinese news. I use WeChat and QQ every day to chat with my friends, and listen to Chinese music. My favourite singer is Jay Chou, and the songs I’m best at singing are “Fairy Tale” and “The Moon Represents My Heart”. Now do I not only have a Chinese name, my life is inseparable from Chinese language and culture.

Every time I have the first class with new students, I always teach them a Chinese proverb: where there is a will, there is a way. Chinese may be one of the most difficult languages, but if we study it diligently, then we are sure to get the hang of it. I also use little stories to teach about Chinese culture, such as how every chengyu (four-character idiom) has its own origin, so I’ll tell them about where the chengyu came from. I also  use jokes and humorous examples to explain the Chinese grammar, sentence structure and collocation. My favourite saying is “It is such a delight to meet friends from afar”; I tell my students that Chinese people are very warm and welcoming, and when we first meet them we may use this saying. There are so many things I want to tell my students, a seemingly infinite number of things.

Niyazmuradov lkhtiyor Bahtiyorovich
Receiving the completion certificate of the simultaneous interpretation training program, organized in part by the respective Ministries of Foreing Affairs of China and Uzbekistan

In 2013, Chinese President Xi Jinping proposed the establishment of the Silk Road Economic Belt. For Chinese language learners in Uzbekistan it was an extremely great opportunity. First of all, many schools in China were issuing the “Belt and Road” Scholarship, so it was very convenient for Uzbek students to apply to study there. Second, our school has established collaborative ties with numerous schools in China, so that outstanding teachers from China will often come to teach at our school, and in this way we can also obtain many precious textbooks and supplies. At the same time, more and more forums and symposiums related to the Silk Road Economic Belt are being held in Uzbekistan, which all of our teachers and students have the chance to participate in. After the policy to establish the “Belt and Road” Initiative was launched, more and more young Uzbeks became interested in Chinese. This reminds me of the days when I was a child. Then I made another secret resolution this time to help more young people learn Chinese, so as to bring new life to the ancient Silk Road.

“I tell my students that Chinese people are very warm and welcoming, and when we first meet them we may use this saying. There are so many things I want to tell my students, a seemingly infinite number of things.”

Of course, more important was the fact that, since the proposal of the Silk Road Economic Belt was released, the concepts of “policy communication, infrastructure connectivity, trade link, capital flow, and understanding among peoples” that President Xi Jinping had put forward has taken effect in Uzbekistan. An increasing number of Chinese enterprises come to Uzbekistan to invest in building factories, and more and more enterprises from the two countries are making trade collaborations. Direct freight train lines from China to Tashkent have been opened, shipping Chinese products to Uzbekistan, and taking back raw and other materials from Uzbekistan. Soon enough, demand for Chinese language skills has reached an unprecedented high, and our students are highly sought after, but there are still not enough of them to meet demand. This has inspired many more young people to study Chinese, and our teachers all claim that they are busier than before, but all of them are full of motivation. True, we are busy, and tired, but we are happy!

Seeing the increasing number of students being able to fluently communicate with Chinese people in their own language, and witnessing the ancient Silk Road return to its past glory of East-West exchange over 1000 years ago, I recall my childhood memories of China, filled with all kinds of feelings. One poem in particular came to my mind, “My heart is young, and the sun and moon imbue me with inspiration. The great Silk Road has been rejuvenated, and the friendship will last forever.”


Confucius Institut Magazine 49

Published in Confucius Institute Magazine
Number 49.
 Volume II. March 2017.

Chinese philosophy

Mr. Xu Jialu’s Speech at Confucius Institute at University College Dublin, Ireland: “Unlike Western medicine that is considered as medical science only, traditional Chinese medicine includes Chinese philosophy, somatology, environmental science, astronomy, meteorology, mineralogy, botany, and humanities, and it also takes account of human soul, mood, and ethics”.

People in both developed and developing countries are, to varying degrees, bothered by problems concerning their health and life span. In response, both Chinese and Western medicine should rise to work out solutions. They should work together and learn from each other so as to probe into Eastern and Western medicine and ultimately improve the overall medical service for human health.

Chinese philosophy
Mr. Xu Jialu

Unlike Western medicine that is considered as medical science only, traditional Chinese medicine includes Chinese philosophy, somatology, environmental science, astronomy, meteorology, mineralogy, botany, and humanities, and it also takes account of human soul, mood, and ethics. Therefore, to know something about Chinese philosophy is the prerequisite to obtaining a comprehensive understanding of traditional Chinese medicine. China is a big family of 56 ethnic groups. Thus, traditional Chinese medicine refers to the medical experience and knowledge of not only the Han ethnic group but also many others, such as Tibetan, Mongol, Hmong, Hui and Dai.

Traditional Chinese medicine has developed six concepts concerning human body: holism, individuality, system, relevance, neutrality and harmony

Traditional Chinese medicine has developed six concepts concerning human body: holism, individuality, system, relevance, neutrality and harmony. A person is an organic unity that has his/ her own characteristics and personalities, as there is no leaf the same as another on the earth. The related knowledge has been recorded in detail in ancient Chinese books dating back to 2,000 years ago. Thus, people should receive personalized medical care because they vary in their genetic inheritance, body structure, living environment, habit and causes of diseases. In one system, one part is related to the others, and even the cells in different parts are related to one another. Only when various organs work together harmoniously, the person could obtain his/her best health status. Beginning from the latter half of the 20th century, Westerners also realized that human body is a systemic entity, which shows the perception upon human body of traditional Chinese medicine and western medicine are coming towards the same direction.

Chinese philosophy

What is the philosophical thinking behind the concept of “holism”? First, the universe is a unity, and humankind is one of its components. Human body is also a unity interrelated to the universe. For example, ear acupuncture could come to existence because various organs are responsive to the ears, and the acupuncture points are laid out in an up-side-down direction of a standing person. Another example is foot therapy which targets at the arch of foot, but is beneficial to the whole body’s health and can even cure diseases. I have a story of myself to share. Ten years ago when I attended a conference in Xianyang City, Shaanxi Province, I came across a foot therapist. Shortly after he started massaging my foot, he asked, “Did you once get your neck injured?” “There is a trivial problem with your heart, but not a big deal. Your waist also has problems.” The structural and organic defections in my body are all reflected on my foot, and had been detected by him. The lumbar disc protrusion has bothered me for 3 years now, but the therapist in Xianyang found it as early as ten years ago.

In diagnosing, traditional Chinese medical practitioners consider not only the illness itself, but also the mood and feeling of the patient as the base to obtain a comprehensive understanding. In traditional Chinese medical theory, mental and body health are closely interrelated. One major difference between traditional Chinese medicine and Western medicine is that the former treats people while the latter cures illness.

Chinese philosophy

According to traditional Chinese medicine, medical treatment is personalized because people vary in their congenital conditions, family background, growth environment, life experience, food, gender and age. About the “holism” theory of Chinese medicine, there is the perception of visible and invisible, for instance the meridian system. We cannot find it even if we dissect a body and put it under an electron microscope. It shows that modern science cannot explain the meridian system yet, but being unable to explain and prove does not mean that it does not exist.

The “harmony” theory of traditional Chinese medicine stresses human’s harmony with nature, the harmony within one’s body, and the harmony between body and mind. Seasonal climate changes has significant impact upon human health. For example, traditional Chinese medicine advocates treating winter diseases in summer and summer diseases in winter, which demonstrates its recognition of harmony between human body and nature. Many people do sports to keep fi t in order to maintain the balance of body, namely, the harmony among various organs. I have a deep feeling of the harmony of my body. If I had two chicken drumsticks, a beef steak and salad for dinner, I would not be able to sleep until three o’clock in the early morning. Although the appetite is satisfied, the stomach is burdened, and that reflects the disharmony of body. Body and mind need to be harmonious also. If one keeps in a bad mood, his/her body will also be in an uncomfortable state.

Apart from Chinese herbs, Chinese medical treatment also includes acupuncture, tuina and massage, and stresses the importance of strengthening the body resistance to eliminate pathogenic factors and of caring for both mental and physical health

Traditional Chinese medicine has four ways of diagnosis, i.e.inspection, auscultation and olfaction, inquiry, and pulse-taking and palpation, and four principles of prescriptions, i.e. the emperor, the minister, the assistance and the envoy, which means that some medicine is as dominant as an emperor, some is like a minister, an assistant or an envoy, playing different roles in a therapy. It emphasizes the doctrine of “one person, one prescription” and “change the prescription every seven to ten days”. Apart from Chinese herbs, Chinese medical treatment also includes acupuncture, tuina and massage, and stresses the importance of strengthening the body resistance to eliminate pathogenic factors and of caring for both mental and physical health. When my daughter was round six or seven years old, she started to have a low fever lasting for four days. Although it did not affect her schooling and playing, she was always in low mood. We took her to see many doctors but all in vain, until we met a traditional Chinese medicine practitioner. My daughter became revived after taking his medicine only after five days. Traditional Chinese medicine can not only cure illness, but also prevent illness by doing health preservation, taiji, qigong and taking medical food. Most Chinese herbs are plants that can be taken as food, which shows the homology of medicine and food.

Besides, there are the sayings of “living with illness” and “living with poison” in traditional Chinese medicine. The most striking example is HIV. China has a therapy that was once widely used in Africa and turned out quite effective. I once paid a visit to the patients and doctors there, and was told that some mine workers and truck drivers with HIV/ AIDS could even go back to work. Although they were still HIV positive, their life and work could go on as usual after receiving traditional Chinese medical treatment. The best example of “living with poison” is traditional Chinese doctors make use of heavy metal. It is unknown to many that when heavy metal is used in one prescription, there is also other herbs to eliminate its side effect. Overall, it’s beneficial to one’s health.

Traditional Chinese medicine had many great feats in Chinese history. For example, historical records show that, in the past two thousand years, China has been plagued by as many as 1,400 times of pestilence coupled with wars of various scales. With traditional Chinese medicine, however, Chinese population witnessed a steady growth, and had never experienced that kind of plague that Europe has experienced which kills millions of people and broke out not only one time . Besides, ancient China was one the earliest and biggest agricultural country, where the storage of crops cultivated plenty of mice, and that made it easy to spread pestilence. Thanks to traditional Chinese medicine, there was never such a case in which all lives in a city were taken. And during the process of fighting with the pestilence they developed the theory of the febrile disease.

Chinese philosophy

Many nations around the world have developed their own medical theories, and traditional Chinese medicine, as one of the most mature ones, greatly enriches the medical treasury of the entire humankind. Thus, traditional Chinese medicine should learn from the excellent medical theories of other nations, including Western medicine to take merits of others to make up for the shortage of itself. Futher more, it should also work together with other medical theories to safeguard and improve the health of the entire human race.

Traditional Chinese medicine should learn from the excellent medical theories of other nations, including Western medicine to take merits of others to make up for the shortage of itself

Nowadays, traditional Chinese medicine also encounters difficulties. It is hard for traditional Chinese medicine to be accepted by and integrated into other cultures because there are gaps or even misunderstandings among them and their perceptions toward human body and the universe are different. What makes it even harder is that medicine involves a wide range of areas like science, policy, education and business. Generally speaking, the differences between Western medicine and traditional Chinese medicine can be categorized into the following aspects. The former stresses on analytical thinking, and thus relatively accurate, while the latter stresses on comprehensiveness, and therefore comparatively obscure. The former stresses on commonality, and thus repeatable, while the latter stresses on individuality, and therefore variable. The former uses the same prescription for the same disease, and thus more standardized, while the latter provides personalized treatment, and therefore more flexible. The former targets at the focus of infection, and thus more straightforward, while the latter treats the entire body and therefore depends more on experience.

In the meantime, traditional Chinese medicine is embracing opportunities. The world is getting smaller and the gaps among different cultures are also narrowing. People’s mind is changing and they start to recognize more truths. With ecological degradation, medical science as a whole is caught in a dilemma. For example, I once had a talk with the Chief Executive of the WHO China Office. He told me that the world is facing a serious problem, i.e. the abuse of antibiotics, which will result in resistance. When there is resistance, the dosage needed to be increased, which will in turn cause more side effects. As a result, a new type of antibiotics has to be developed. But do we really need antibiotics all the time? Perhaps, traditional Chinese medicine and Chinese culture can offer the world another way to think over and solve the problem.


ic_ENG_50

Published in Confucius Institute Magazine
Number 50.
 Volume III. May 2017.

Shang Fei

Shang Fei: “Amazed by Chinese characters written with the brush, with lines of uneven thickness and melodically rhythmic strokes where the aroma of the ink lingered, the students repeatedly asked me to write more on spot”.

Currently there are over 4,000 Chinese language teachers and volunteers teaching Chinese in Confucius Institutes, primary and secondary schools and universities throughout the world. While spreading Chinese language and culture, these cultural envoys personally experienced exchanges and interactions with different teaching practices and other cultures. The column of Teachers’ Voices is a channel where Chinese language teachers and volunteers can share their teaching experience with each other. There will also be a collection of stories on their unique experiences in foreign lands these cultural envoys can share with our readers.

Shang Fei, Teacher of Chinese at the Confucius Institute at Specialist Schools and Academies Trust, U.K.

Between September 2008 and July 2009, I taught Chinese language and culture at the Confucius Institute at Special­ist Schools and Academies Trust in the U.K. as a government-sponsored Hanban Chinese teacher. I understood very well that my responsibility as a Chinese teacher who had crossed the oceans to teach in a foreign country was not limited to language instruction, that I was also supposed to be a propa­gator of culture helping foreigners learn about China.

When teaching Chinese, I found that, because the sounds and the forms in Chinese are independent of each other, writing Chinese is a difficult task for British students. During one class, I played a little game with the students. I divided each Chinese character into its different components, writing each out separately, with a brush, on different cards. The cards were then shuffled so that they were not in any particular or­der. Then I asked the students to form correct Chinese characters according to my instructions. The British students loved this game. Amazed by Chinese characters written with the brush, with lines of uneven thickness and melodi­cally rhythmic strokes where the aroma of the ink lingered, the students repeat­edly asked me to write more on spot. Seeing the students so eager to learn, I had an inspiration: why not combine chinese calligraphy with the teaching of Chi­nese characters? First, I taught them the correct way to hold the brush and sim­ple versions of horizontal and vertical strokes. Then, every time we reviewed vocabularies, I used slides to show the students, divided into groups, Chinese characters in rapid succession, each slide view lasting only 10 seconds. The students, using a brush to write Chi­nese characters on water writing paper, competed to see which group would be fastest. I had never expected that cal­ligraphy could add so much excitement to teaching Chinese characters. To this day, images of the students vying to hold their Chinese characters as high as possible in front of me comes back to me again and again.

Shang Fei
With my help, the British students now hold a writing brush correctly.

In order for the children to feel the joy of learning, in my culture class, I taught them some painting informa­tion to learn to appreciate calligraphy and see the beauty of having calligra­phy and painting in one. I showed the students flash images with elements of Chinese calligraphy and painting. At the sound of the elegantly melodic classical Chinese music, in front of the splendid beauty of Chinese watercolor paintings, and at the sight of calli­graphic renditions of Chinese charac­ters that were ethereal or free or rugged or gracefully restrained, these British children invariably found themselves in awe of traditional Chinese culture. The students also displayed a keen interest in the “Four Treasures of the Study” when I showed these to them. They were stunned to see the carved patterns and images on the little ink stone so full of auspicious symbolism, to witness the thin rice paper so capably receive strokes of inked brushes, and to know that the ink stone and mere water can work together to produce shining black ink.

“The students surprised me with paintings that invariably de­picted a panda that was clumsily and innocently cute. On each painting was also written the two characters for the word “panda” – with strokes that were exuberantly lively despite the child­ish looks”.

The students were so delighted with the brush that they could hardly bear to put it down. It then occurred to me that they could paint the giant panda using the brush. The students surprised me with paintings that invariably de­picted a panda that was clumsily and innocently cute. On each painting was also written the two characters for the word “panda” – with strokes that were exuberantly lively despite the child­ish looks. Some students even signed their name beside the panda they had painted, proudly declaring: “I can do Chinese painting! I can write Chinese characters!”

Only an amateur of calligraphy myself, I was well aware that I could only offer these children a rudimentary initiation. My hope, however, was that my work would open a door to people interested in learning about China, helping them appreciate the splendor of five thousand years of culture from a different perspective and know the real China. That would make this overseas trip even more worthwhile.


Confucius Institute Magazine 7

Published in Confucius Institute Magazine
Magazine 07. Volume II. March 2010.

woodblock printing

As one of the four great inventions in China, woodblock printing is the earliest printing in the world. It has long been a disputable issue when it comes the time when it was invented. Most experts argued that it could be traced back to the Sui and Tang Dynasties between 590 and 640 A.D. and was greatly connected with the prosperity of Buddhism in China.

By Cheng Ye
本刊记者 程也
Semilunar graver is moving and reversed Chinese characters are neatly shown on the woodblock and wherever the graver goes, the matrix is enlarging. An experi­enced craftsman of China Ancient Paper­making and Printing Culture Village is showcasing the working process of woodblock printing and heavily surrounded by visiting students. The art of printing with a history of over a thousand years is well persisted into today along Fuchunjiang River 30km away from Hangzhou.

woodblock printing
Diamond Sutra created in B.C. 868 is Woodblock printed.

As one of the four great inventions in China, woodblock printing is the earliest printing in the world. It has long been a disputable issue when it comes the time when it was invented. Most experts argued that it could be traced back to the Sui and Tang Dynasties between 590 and 640 A.D. and was greatly connected with the prosperity of Buddhism in China. Back then, every temple had full-time classics copyists. Although they copied all day long, they still couldn’t accommodate people’s demand for classics and portraits. And when woodblock was made available, it can be printed for thousands of times in a row and one printer can produce more than 700 sheets every day. Such a volume produc­tion method was highly favored by people very soon as it saved labor power, reduced cost and ensured quality.

woodblock printing
After printing on the woodblock, the blank rice paper becomes the printing works.

In the 1st year of the 20th century, a piece of world-shaking news emerged – the sutra cave in Mogao Grottoes at Dunhuang was unearthed. Among numerous cultural relics, there is a volume of Diamond Sutra bonded by seven pieces of paper, which, born in 868 A.D., was regarded as not only the most ancient and exquisite existing sutra in the world, but also the earliest wood­block printing with explicit date record. The figure of Buddhas and scriptures on the sutra are still vivid and dynamic and every ink mark talks about the legend of woodblock printing more than a thousand years ago.

woodblock printing
Huang Xiaojian, the intangible cultural heritage successor, making woodblocks in Huabaozhai, Hangzhou.

Simply put, woodblock printing is a process of copying text on woodblock which is engraved with content. To begin with, characters and images needed shall be written according to specific size and then reversely pasted on the planed wood­block to engrave reversed content, making vacant woodblock the block full of wisdom. Second, senior carver will refine it with unique artistic characters. Third, the craftsman puts Chinese art paper on woodblock which is pasted with ink and prints with brush. This process appears simple and rapid, but as thing stands, it affords no underestimation. The force of printing with brush shall not be too heavy or light and vari­ous techniques shall be applied to bring out the essence of the original work. For instance, the technique of “brushing lightly” is used to display the sensory of brush pen on Chinese art paper so that presswork is blessed with the beauty of shade of manuscript and the speed and romantic charm of writing. Finally, when raising the paper, poetic prose and portrait be­come readable works and can be circulated nationwide.

woodblock printing

Woodblock printing developed greatly after practice in the Sui and Tang Dynasties. When it comes to the Song Dynasty, people paid attention to various aspects including content collation, paper and ink, set type, binding and layout and the typefaces of famous calligraphers were used in printing, con­tributing to the statement that woodblock printing is “refined by people in the Song Dynasty” in the history of printing in China. In the Ming and Qing Dynasties, people collected printing of the Song Dynasty and analogized that “one page of printing of the Song Dynasty is priced at one tael of gold”. And until today, it’s still attached with whopping high price. At the just-concluded 2012 Beijing Spring Auction, a lot called for RMB 50 million yuan in earnest money, hitting a historical high in domestic artwork auction. What is the pre­cious lot? Five hundred ancient books with dozens Splendid Valley of Flowers of the Song Dynasty.

woodblock printing
Woodblocks unearthed from Liancheng Sibao, Fujian, the famous woodblock printing base in Ming and Qing Dynasties.

The great prosperity of woodblock printing in the Song Dynasty cultivated the large picture of engraving and reading books from emperors, generals and ministers to plain citizens. Typography also emerged on the horizon during this period. Although woodblock printing isn’t as convenient as typog­raphy in terms of manual work, materials and flexibility, its extremely lower error rate, wider space for typeface maneuver and flexible expression of graphs and lines are truly exclusive and particular. As such, woodblock printing has been popular in the subsequent hundreds of years and well persisted into modern times.

Although woodblock printing isn’t as convenient as typog­raphy in terms of manual work, materials and flexibility, its extremely lower error rate, wider space for typeface maneuver and flexible expression of graphs and lines are truly exclusive and particular.

In the west, alphabetic writing is more suitable for movable-type printing than Chinese characters, and therefore typography brought out its best immediately. In particular, lead movable type and printing machine invented by a German called Johannes Gutenberg in 1450 made mechanized printing a bright pearl in the indus­trialization in the west. As time goes by, China’s printing industry has also made in­novation and been away from woodblock printing, the millennium old technique.

woodblock printing
Lead movable type and printing machine invented by Gutenberg made mechanized printing a bright pearl in the industrialization in the west.

On May 20, 2006, woodblock printing technique was added to the list of the first batch of state-level intangible cultural heritage. And on September 30, 2009, the United Nations Education, Science and Culture Organization officially included woodblock printing into Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

Today when advanced technologies and concepts keep emerging such as electronic phototypesetting technology and digital printing, minor wood­block printing still maintains its vigor and vitality and is dubbed as the “living fossil” in the history of printing. In Hangzhou and Yangzhou, many crafts­men still employ the most traditional technique to produce books, attracting the attention of many fans to purchase. “I like the book printed with tradi­tional methods as it provides a special sense of beauty. I hope my students can have more access to this traditional culture.” Teacher Zhang said. He takes students to visit the Culture Village. He also learned from the masters that a dozen youngsters are now studying the technique here, a source of delight for him.


ic_ENG_22

pdfPublished in Confucius Institute Magazine
Magazine 22. Volume 5. September 2012.
View/Download the print issue in PDF

Guo Jianhui

Guo Jianhui: “When I first started teaching I could barely speak a word of Portuguese, so I mostly relied on my broken Portuguese and lots of gestures. When the first class came to an end I let out a sigh of relief, saying to myself, “Finally I had made it through!” As the saying goes, “The first step is always the hardest”, and I think this is really true”.

Currently there are over 4,000 Chinese language teachers and volunteers teaching Chinese in Confucius Institutes, primary and secondary schools and universities throughout the world. While spreading Chinese language and culture, these cultural envoys personally experienced exchanges and interactions with different teaching practices and other cultures. The column of Teachers’ Voices is a channel where Chinese language teachers and volunteers can share their teaching experience with each other. There will also be a collection of stories on their unique experiences in foreign lands these cultural envoys can share with our readers. 

by Guo Jianhui

I stayed in Ilha Solteira, a small town in Sao Paulo State, Brazil. The city of Sao Paulo is the fourth largest on Earth, regarded as the financial center of South America. But the little town where I stayed seemed to have nothing to do with this metropolis. The headquarters of the Confucius Institute at the University of Estadual Paulista , is located in the city limits. But among the teaching sites governed by the headquarters, the farthest from Sao Paulo, where I worked, takes a painstaking 20 hours to get to and back from, almost as much time as it would take for me to return to China.

When I first arrived there I had some difficulty adapting to the life, because I couldn’t speak the language, and didn’t have any experience in teaching Chinese. So I didn’t know how to prepare for my classes, or how to teach Chinese effectively. Faced with an unfamiliar environment I would often feel out of my element, as I had graduated as a physical education major, and lacked knowledge pertaining to Chinese language teaching. However, my main task at hand was teaching Chinese, not t’ai chi ch’uan or other martial arts, so I had nowhere to use my education background in athletics, while at the same time Chinese language education was not my major. So how could I put my skills to good use in this little town?

“When I first arrived there I had some difficulty adapting to the life, because I couldn’t speak the language, and didn’t have any experience in teaching Chinese. So I didn’t know how to prepare for my classes, or how to teach Chinese effectively.”

But I had to stick to the path I’d chosen regardless of how hard it was and I knew I’d make it through no matter what. I had no other choice but to grin and bear it. When I first started teaching I could barely speak a word of Portuguese, so I mostly relied on my broken Portuguese and lots of gestures. When the first class came to an end I let out a sigh of relief, saying to myself, “Finally I had made it through!” As the saying goes, “The first step is always the hardest”, and I think this is really true.

Guo Jianhui
The author (centre) taking part in an educational event.

There were no Chinese people there, much fewer Chinese stores. On weekends I’d usually go work out at the gym, and sometimes I’d play football and basketball with some of the locals. Once in a while some students, friends and I would have a barbecue, from which I unexpectedly learned how to do Brazilian-style barbecue. After making more Brazilian friends, my Portuguese improved quite a bit. I then spent more time on my teaching and my own improvement. Once I got better at teaching, I also got better at controlling the classroom, and my rapport with the students was strengthened substantially.

I remember that in the days I first arrived in Brazil, everything was new to me: the large groups of vagrants along the streets and slums which encircled the mountains, no stores open on weekends and even no people on the streets…All of these things really aroused my curiosity. But after having stayed in Brazil for almost a year and a half, my language skills reached a new level, and I gained a deeper understanding of the country.

“I All of a sudden I felt reluctant to leave, realizing that these get-togethers with the students had become my home away from home. I think my connection with these students will be something lasting forever in both their and my memory.”

Toward the end of the semester, when I told the students I was about to leave, they all expressed their reluctance to see me go, which filled me with a feeling of accomplishment. All of a sudden I felt reluctant to leave, realizing that these get-togethers with the students had become my home away from home. I think my connection with these students will be something lasting forever in both their and my memory.

Train stations are unusual places, filled with both joy and sorrow. When I said goodbye to Diego, Juliana, and all the adorable students and their parents, each of them gave me a big hug, and I was unable to hold back my tears that welled up in my eyes. At that moment I realized that how I loved them!


ic_ENG_50

Published in Confucius Institute Magazine
Number 50.
 Volume III. May 2017.

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