Chinese Language Is the Key to Treasure House
There is an often-quoted and widely loved story named Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves in Arabic folk tales collection One Thousand and One Nights. As we know, Ali Baba has a magic phrase “Open, sesame!”, which could open the door of the treasure cave. But at present, many people joke the magic phrase can only work in Chinese language.
In last month, I attended “Chinese Bridge” – Chinese Proficiency Competition for Foreign Students in Afghanistan, organized by the Confucius Institute at Kabul University (CIKU). Afghan students from college and high school impressed me a lot for their passion of learning Chinese and proficiency in practicing. I think they are getting close to open the door of treasure house.
Chinese language is spoken by largest population and one of the six official languages of United Nations. It’s also one of the language that is most efficient in computer typing as well as striking the heart and love-sentiment-igniting. Moreover, Chinese language has a long history, rich connotations and fantastic poetry. It’s worthy to learn and enjoy for a life-long time. As the reform and opening-up deepening, China’s global influence and contribution increasing, and more Chinese cuisine and enterprises sprouting around the world, the Chinese language is becoming a career promoter for young talents in plenty of countries.
CIKU is the only official Chinese education and culture exchange institute in Afghanistan. Since its first enrollment in 2008, CIKU has applied for 284 Hanban scholarships for Afghan students to study in China, cultivated 133 bachelors and 16 local Chinese language teachers. These achievements are miracles, while security situation around is so tough.
The miracles didn’t fall down from the sky but came from everyone’s arduous efforts. In 2010, Mr. Mohammad Yousuf Rahnaward, the incumbent Executive Director of CIKU, was then a college student, and frequently went to the Visa Department of the Ministry of Interior to help with the Chinese teachers’ visa applications. While there was a big explosion one day and caused mass casualties, he was just lucky enough to escape it. Later at the very beginning of his teaching career, Mr. Rahnaward had to teach 2 classes at the same time, 10 minutes in one classroom and then rush in the other. But he finally made it.
Last year, the Chinese professor Gulinisha’s husband passed away in Afghanistan due to disease. When she went back to China to arrange funeral affairs with sorrow, many friends persuaded her not return to Afghanistan any more. But she insisted on returning to Kabul just one week later, because she couldn’t leave aside the responsibility and students here, and hoped to condole her husband with teaching achievements. Her story spreads wildly among the teachers and students in Kabul and encouraged every student learning Chinese language.
Mr. Abdul Razaq and his younger brother graduated together from CIKU in 2013. His brother started a business in China, and promised him a salary of 1500$ per month to join in. However, Mr. Razaq chose to be an intern teacher in CIKU with a salary of only 50$ per month, which was just enough for his transportation to and from the university. But he persisted anyway, because he thought teaching Chinese language can help more Afghan people change their destiny and this is his highest dream.
I spoke to the teachers and students of Kabul University that, Chinese language, especially its characters, are very charming. For example, the character of military or force in Chinese language means “stop the war”, indicating that the military power is not used for bullying the small or the weak, but for stopping violence. “Afghanistan” in Chinese is translated both in pronunciation and meaning, implying that this is a rich mountainous country, built by work and sweat. This reflects Chinese people’s good affection towards Afghanistan. The students from CIKU and Marefat School told me that they also have a deep affection to China and Chinese culture. Their favorite Confucius’ phrases are “You can always find something to learn from the people who keep you company”, “Harmony in diversity”. They love eating dumplings and roasted duck, and appreciate Chinese people’s characters of peace loving, respecting each other, being honest and keeping time. They adore Chinese superstars, such as Jackie Chan, Stephen Chow, and Teresa Teng, and love singing The Moon Represents My Heart and Great China.
When I visited Kabul University and Bamyan University, I found that the most interested question of teachers and students is how can Chinese President Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road Initiative benefit Afghanistan, and the largest expectation is to get more scholarships to study in China, and wish to know how could China realize moderate prosperity from poverty in only 40 years.
I told them that the most beautiful construction in the world is bridge, and the “Chinese Bridge” and the Confucius Institute are such bridges that connect China and Afghanistan as well the heart of our two peoples. The most powerful tool in the world is the wing, and the Belt and Road Initiative could give Afghanistan who love China wings to fly their dreams. In recent years, the students, who are learning Chinese language in Afghan neighboring countries, are very excited about better career and income. The Belt and Road Initiative brings them projects and employment. However, opportunities can only be caught by those who are well prepared. Learning Chinese language is indeed not easy, but this also shows the value of perseverance. One of the experiences for China’s achievements in the past 40 years is that we should remain true to our original aspiration, and always struggle arduously. Youths are dream pursuers. Dream pursing needs passion while realizing needs perseverance. Wish everyone have resolve and perseverance. May Chinese language a life-long partner, and open the treasure house of knowledge as well as happiness!