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China Daily / 2022-04 / 01 / Page006

Local culture enchants international students

By YUAN SHENGGAO | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2022-04-01 00:00

When Choi Eun-soo, a student from South Korea, was taking part in an exchange event in China's Shanxi province, she said it felt like a dream coming true.

Choi is learning Chinese language and culture at Jeonju University in the city of Jeonju in South Korea. When she heard about the opportunity to participate in the Chinese Bridge student exchange event months ago, she signed up and was soon admitted.

This year's Chinese Bridge event is sponsored by the Center for Language Education and Cooperation of the Chinese Ministry of Education and organized by Taiyuan Normal University based in the Shanxi provincial capital of Taiyuan.

"As a student studying Chinese, I know it is a rare opportunity to be able to use the language in China itself," Choi said. "I was told that Shanxi is one of the cradles of Chinese civilization, so I was eager to take part in the trip months ago."

The event opened on March 23 in Taiyuan. It gathered more than 180 students from 12 countries including South Korea, Vietnam, Mexico, Columbia and Cameroon.

During the event, the students toured various places in Shanxi over a week.

They had an all-around experience of Shanxi's culture by visiting places of historical interest, hearing local songs, watching folk dances and operas and tasting local dishes.

In an online class, Zhao Lin, head of the department of dance at Taiyuan Normal University, showed various forms of local dance to the international students through video presentations.

"Folk dances in Shanxi have their distinct local characteristics," Zhao said. "But they share the 'universal language' with any form of dance from around the world."

Some students showed interest in the host university and said they hope to study at the school.

Their interest was aroused when hearing lectures given by international students who had graduated from the university.

A Taiyuan Normal University graduate from Afghanistan, who gave himself the Chinese name of Ma Yun, shared his experience of studying in the school.

He recalled that when he just arrived in Shanxi for the first time in 2020, it was during the critical period of the COVID-19 outbreak.

"When I felt nervous about it, we were visited by a number of teachers and school officials, who informed us about the pandemic prevention precautions and sent us gifts," he said.

He also said that the secret in learning Chinese language is to integrate with local life and local people.

Guo Li, head of the international cooperation and exchanges department at Taiyuan Normal University, said the school began to enroll international students in 2019. It mainly offers Chinese language training to international students.

The official said its first batch of foreign students all passed the HSK-4 Chinese language examination and 77 percent of the graduates were enrolled by famed Chinese universities for further studies.

Wang Pei contributed to this story.


Students at Taiyuan Normal University perform a folk dance during the opening ceremony of the Chinese Bridge exchange event. LIU CAIWEN/FOR CHINA DAILY



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