File photo shows students study at a library in the Addis Ababa University, Addis Ababa, capital of Ethiopia, March 28, 2017. (by Xinhua/Michael Tewelde)
ADDIS ABABA, Nov. 14 (Xinhua) -- Twenty-year-old Fozia Ismael is a first-year undergraduate student in the Confucius Institute at Addis Ababa University (AAU).
Speaking to Xinhua, Ismael, who is one of 20 Chinese language students, said her decision to abandon her plans to study Political Science and International Relations and instead learn the Chinese language, was taken after hearing about the Confucius Institute and its Ethiopian graduates who went on to have successful professional careers.
"Chinese language is becoming a widely spoken language, with 1.3 billion Chinese Mandarin speakers in China and millions of others found in nearly every areas of the world, so it would be very useful to speak Chinese especially in Africa since many Chinese are coming here and they are developing the continent, so it would be very useful to learn Chinese," said Ismael.
Ismael said despite the perception that many Ethiopians have that Chinese is a difficult language to learn, she intends to fully master Chinese language by the time she graduates.
"Every language is difficult, it needs effort and time, as long as we give it our own best efforts, it will be getting easier to learn, though the pronunciation and writing system for Chinese language is really different from Amharic (Ethiopia's working language) and English," Ismael told Xinhua.
The rapidly increasing Chinese community and the hundreds of Chinese firms engaged in business activities in Ethiopia initially compelled the AAU to open the Confucius Institute in 2013, being governed under the College of Humanities, Language Studies, Journalism and Communications (CHLSJC).
Zelealem Leyew, Dean of the Department of CHLSJC, said while economic interests initially persuaded the University to start Chinese language studies section, the interest from Ethiopian students to learn about Chinese culture and history, has meant it has become a forum for wider people-to-people relations between the two ancient civilizations.
"We have a big interest from the side of the students to learn Chinese Mandarin language and it's not only learning Chinese Mandarin, but through learning Chinese Mandarin, Ethiopian students are interested to know about the oral and monumental history of China. They just want to know about the culture of China, to know many things about China," said Leyew.
Already, Ethiopian Chinese language students are given courses in Tai Chi, a Chinese martial art known for its slow, graceful and powerful movements. Tai Chi is practiced by millions of people around the world to help them sustain their health and pacify their minds.
Leyew also said the Confucius Institute over the last five years has grown to be one of the most vibrant language study sections in the University, with a rapidly growing interest from Ethiopian students to learn Chinese language.
"This is really a good opportunity for the reputation of our college, we have a number of international languages in our college and the Chinese Confucius institute is the most vibrant institution or language unit in our college," Leyew told Xinhua.
The rapidly growing interest from Ethiopians to learn Chinese language is a challenge that Yang Ying, Chinese Director of Confucius Institute at AAU, is striving to meet.
"At present there are lots of Chinese companies, they need a lot of local students who can speak in Chinese urgently, I'm afraid and worried that I don't have enough students to provide for the Chinese companies," Yang told Xinhua.
Yang also said she has noticed a considerable interest from Ethiopian students to learn more about China and its culture, an interest which Confucius Institute hopes to satisfy by providing scholarship opportunities to Ethiopian students.
"We have a lot of scholarships for students, the first one is the summer camp, the students can go to China for 15 days, they can appreciate and experience Chinese culture for the first time and also we have scholarships for the students to study in China for one year and half a year respectively," Yang told Xinhua. (by Xinhua/Michael Tewelde)
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