Ji Xiangbo, Cairo University, Egypt: “Egypt is a tourist country, where almost everyone says “Welcome to Egypt!” When they know we are from China, they will become even more hospitable and say “Bruce Lee” while making kungfu gestures.”
Ji Xiangbo, Cairo University, Egypt
I believe most Chinese love kungfu movies when they are young. I am no exception. I wanted to imitate them every time I saw the swordsmen, in old movies, perform roof-climbing and wall-scaling skills. I wished that I could have mastered the same skills to do whatever I desired and to fly as high as I wanted. I dreamed of encountering heroic incidents too, like “coming to the rescue of people in distress” and “saving a beauty out of trouble.”
It was only after I have started working in Egypt as a volunteer Chinese teacher that I discovered Egyptians are as fascinated as me by Chinese kungfu movies. Egypt is a tourist country, where almost everyone says “Welcome to Egypt!” When they know we are from China, they will become even more hospitable and say “Bruce Lee” while making kungfu gestures. I still remembered an experience with a young taxi driver, who became very excited after knowing we came from China. He kept saying “Bruce Lee” so we also started talking about the kungfu star. Another experience I had was with my firstyear students in an oral Chinese class. A few students suddenly asked me a question: “Is it true that Chinese people can fly?” I know immediately that they must have watched Chinese kungfu movies. So I said, “Yes, Chinese people can fly.” Then they asked me if I could fly. I told them I could not fly but they did not believe me and insisted that I demonstrate my “ability.” I told them not now, but I would show them after class. After the class, the students forced me to demonstrate my “flying skills.” I said the classroom was too small for me to fly inside. So they suggested that I fly out of the window and then fly back! Just think about it! Fly out of a six-story room and then fly back! This is going to kill me!
At last, I told them, rather firmly, that I could not fly and that if I did fly out of the window they would not be able to see me again. Upon hearing this, they finally gave me a break. But I knew they were really interested in Chinese martial arts, or were very curious about it.
If I did fly out of the window they would not be able to see me again. Upon hearing this, they finally gave me a break. But I know they were really interested in Chinese martial arts, or were very curious about it.
Another experience was actually the experience of one of my colleagues, who was also a volunteer Chinese teacher in Egypt. One day he was stretching arms and legs on campus, and his activities attracted a crowd of curious people. When all the spectators were ready to feast their eyes on a Chinese kungfu performance, he suddenly stopped and said, “I’ve eaten too much today to continue my exercise. Maybe next time.” This dampened everyone’s enthusiasm. There are many similar stories that showe me the Egyptians’ enthusiasm for Chinese martial arts. Therefore, we took this opportunity to give a lecture on Chinese martial arts in our “Chinese language corner.” During the lecture, the participants were provided with text and video materials. They also watched the kungfu performance given by some teachers and interacted with the performers right on the spot. The lively lecture enabled the Egyptian students to better understand Chinese martial arts in great happiness. I really hope that more Egyptians can have a better understanding of the profound Chinese culture through martial arts, so that they can deepen their friendship with Chinese people.
Published in Confucius Institute Magazine
Number 03.Volume III. July 2009.
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