Every time I introduce Chinese to a new city, I am well received by the local teachers and students and, of course, I am happy and develop many new friends. In Bulgaria, I hear more and more smiling people say “hello” in Chinese. I think this is part of the appeal of Chinese.
Liu Kun, Chinese Teacher at Confucius Institute in Sofia, Bulgaria
From September 2006 until recently, I worked at the No. 18 Middle School in Sofia as a volunteer Chinese teacher. In the school’s classroom building, there was a large Chinese-learning room on the third floor. China’s flag, a map of China, and a pinyin chart were posted on the walls. The room was equipped with advanced audio facilities provided by the Chinese education ministry. There, signs of China were visible almost everywhere: Lenovo computers, more than 100 Chinese books and magazines and even the Chinese-brand multimedia speakers. The students told me, jokingly: “Liu, everything is made in China!”
It is in this cozy environment that the lovely children and I, a “made in China” teacher, spent two beautiful years together.
In Bulgaria, the medium of instruction for a Chinese class is English, which makes it more difficult for students to understand. The students are in favor of lively ways of teaching and the traditional teaching method does not work well. If a class is not fun and interesting, the students’ attention will be easily distracted. So I began learning basic Bulgarian language and learning from other teachers their methods of conducting a class. While I was exploring the new teaching method, the students began to show stronger interest in Chinese and better understanding of the language. Busy and intense as the work was, I feel I was the happiest person when with the students.
I still remember the day I was so busy as to forget my own birthday. Around 5 pm, I went to the classroom only to find the room was in dark. Suddenly, I saw a light from the back of the classroom and then two students with a birthday cake came up to me while singing the birthday song. Then the light was turned on and all the students stood up, looking at me with their clear, bright eyes. I felt my own eyes welling with tears. In Bulgaria, the students of the 12th grade graduate in May.
At that moment, we, like brothers and sisters, communicated love and good wishes in Chinese and also extended friendship in the simplest way.
I was honored with “the most popular Chinese teacher” award at the past two graduation ceremonies of the school. According to their custom, the honored teach is supposed to count from 1 to 12, together with the students, before giving the congratulation. I went up onto the stage, loudly counted from 1 to 12 in Chinese and then hugged them, singing graduation songs and weeping. At that moment, we, like brothers and sisters, communicated love and good wishes in Chinese and also extended friendship in the simplest way. Because of my good performance, I was assigned to the Sofia Confucius Institute in September 2008, becoming one of the first Chinese volunteer teachers at the institute. With the help of the directors of the institute, I have conducted several open classes in Plovdiv, Varna, Burges, Stara Zagora and other cities.
Every time I introduce Chinese to a new city, I am well received by the local teachers and students and, of course, I am happy and develop many new friends. In Bulgaria, I hear more and more smiling people say “hello” in Chinese. I think this is part of the appeal of Chinese. Now I can talk about my homeland as a way of teaching foreigners my mother tongue. Though living in another country, I feel I am still close to my motherland, so close that I feel a strong urge to extend my love and friendship using my ancient and beautiful language.
Published in Confucius Institute Magazine
Number 4. Volume IV. September 2009.
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