Languages Bring Hearts Closer¡ª¡ªGraduation Ceremony of Short-term Chinese Training Class for Public Officials in Kingdom of Lesotho

[Source]    People¡¯s Daily [Time]    2018-06-26 10:27:11 

¡°Hello! Please show me your ID.¡± If you hear such words in Beijing, there is nothing unusual. Perhaps, you are stopped by a traffic police for breaking traffic rules. But in Lesotho, the world¡¯s largest ¡°state within a state¡± in the southern tip of Africa, you may also hear such requirement from local officials, speaking in fluent Chinese.

Recently, the Graduation Ceremony of Short-term Chinese Training Class for Public Officials in Lesotho was held in its capital Maseru. It took more than a month for dozens of public officials from immigration and police departments to finish the spoken Chinese training, pass the exam and get their course-completion certificates. In the ceremony, some local police officials recognized that the journalists were Chinese, and they came to greet us. They not only used the most basic words like ¡°hello¡±. When it came to questions like ¡°How long have you been learning Chinese?¡± and ¡°How about your spoken Chinese?¡± they also answered them fluently: ¡°I have learnt that for a month.¡± ¡°My spoken Chinese is ok.¡± Before the ceremony, a police official sitting next to the journalist was looking through a Chinese-learning application with a Huawei mobile phone. He told the journalist that he didn¡¯t attend the training, but he would like to learn in advance to lay a foundation for the Chinese classes afterwards.

Lesotho, with a population of about 2.2 million and an area of over 30 thousand square kilometers, is completely surrounded by South Africa. It earns the reputation of ¡°kingdom in the sky¡± for its altitude is over 1000 meters. At present, there are more than 3,000 overseas Chinese in Lesotho. Due to its under-developed economy and the relatively large gap between the rich and the poor, local public security environment is severe, and robberies against Chinese businessmen often occur. Therefore, the immigration and police departments have become government agencies that frequently contact with overseas Chinese. In response to this situation, China and Lesotho immediately reached consensus on letting Confucius Classroom to organize the first short-term Chinese training course for public officials with 10 sessions in total. As the public officials have work to do and could not engage in full-time study, the course was thus designed to have two days each week and two sessions for each day.

Yu Ji, who charges teaching, is from the Confucius Classroom at Machabeng College International School in Lesotho. He is currently the only teacher for the Confucius Classroom. Coming from Northeast China, he is outgoing and lively, and adapts well to the local work and life. Yu Ji told the journalists that the first training class was still fresh in his mind. The students, with their serious expressions and uniforms, had brought him under great pressure. But after he came in touch with them, he realized that these students were active and conscientious, and he could feel their efforts when doing exercises.

The course focused on the practical spoken Chinese in the work scene. During the 10-session training, students have learnt 15 sentences about working language, such as ¡°Hello, please show me your passport/driving license/work permit/health certificate/ residence permit.¡± or ¡°Please cooperate with our work.¡± and have acquired more than 100 words. Despite their busy work, the attendance rate of students was very high, and 29 out of the 36 students have kept full attendance or only absent for once. Some students were absent because of their work, but the maximum absences was limited to only four times.

Macoso, a strong female police officer, ranked the first in the graduation exam. She told the journalist, ¡°I was curious at a young age when there were Chinese businessmen in my village. Although I started learning Chinese only a month ago, I¡¯m confident with my spoken Chinese. It¡¯s not that hard as I have imagined.¡± She added that the Chinese language they learnt could help them better communicate with Chinese people in daily work and improve their work efficiency.

Macoso was indeed qualified for her self-confidence. She not only ranked the first in the graduation exam, but also performed a short play that simulated working scenes together with Yu Ji at the graduation ceremony, winning rounds of applause. Sun Xianghua, Chinese ambassador to Lesotho, said that the training was very successful as student did well in pronunciation and vocabulary and local people are fast learners. Yu Ji told the journalists that 8 out of the 36 students received excellent Certificate of Excellence and 6 received Certificate of Good Performance.

Marty Aiho, from the Immigration Department, wore a bright shiny coat and curled her hair for the ceremony. She ranked the second in the class despite her tight schedule of helping foreigners to apply for visas and residence permits. As for how to achieve such a good result, she proudly told the journalists that besides attending Mr. Yu¡¯ s class, she also learned by herself via videos about learning Chinese on the Internet. She could also get in touch with many Chinese at work and she liked to talk with them. ¡°After learning mandarin, Chinese friends are more cooperative with us,¡± she said.

At the graduation ceremony, students talked most frequently that ¡°The class period is too short. We still want to learn more mandarin.¡± They proposed to extend the training time and make it a long-term training course. Friendship between the peoples holds the key to sound state-to-state relations, and heart-to-heart communication contributes to deeper friendship. As Mokhehle, Minister of Police and Public Safety of Lesotho, remarked at the graduation ceremony, ¡°Although it takes more than 10 hours by plane from Lesotho to China, China remains one of Lesotho¡¯s closest friends.¡±

(Story By Wan Yu, People¡¯s Daily, Page 3, June 21st, 2018)

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