Feature: Confucius Institute bridge of understanding, friendship between China, South Pacific island countries
by Xinhua Writer Zhang Yongxing
SUVA, Sept. 8 (Xinhua) -- The Confucius Institute is a bridge of understanding and friendship linking China and the world, including the South Pacific island countries, a Vanuatu university official told Xinhua.
In a recent exclusive interview with Xinhua, Ruben Markward, director of Emalus campus of the University of the South Pacific (USP), Vanuatu, praised the Confucius Institute at USP for the important role it has played over the past years.
"The Confucius Institute is, in fact, a very useful platform for us to learn from each other, and a bridge of understanding and friendship between China and the world, including the South Pacific island countries like Vanuatu. It has really helped increase the cultural exchanges between us and promote the mutual understanding between our two peoples and the friendship between our two countries," he said.
"We can not be what we are today without the Confucius Classroom here. Actually, it is also a win-win outcome of the friendly cooperation between our two countries," Ruben said.
"I am happy for the progress the Confucius Classroom has made over the past years and I want to thank China and the Confucius Classroom here for what they have done to our university."
Located in Vanuatu's beautiful capital city of Port Vila, the garden-like USP Emalus campus hosts more than 1,000 students per semester from the Pacific region. Emalus is a Melanesian word which means "the place where it always rains."
The Confucius Classroom at the campus was officially inaugurated in 2015 and it has since then had four Chinese teachers and one volunteer. The classroom has around 1,156 registered students and has organized around 50 cultural events over the past years.
From Ruben's point of view, the Confucius Classroom here is a big, unique and different one which has done a great job to help more and more students from the Pacific region learn Chinese language and culture.
"The Confucius Classroom here is very interesting, unique and the students like it very much because learning Chinese language can help them discover a different culture and new horizon.
"Many of them are also eager to learn Chinese language as they also want to have chances to visit China and study in Chinese universities in the future. We have seen an increasing number of students who want to learn Chinese language here," said Ruben, who has visited China and sees China as "a very big and important partner" to his university.
"If you look around the beautiful campus, you will find that most of the buildings here have been funded by the Chinese government. This is the result of the good cooperation between the governments of China and Vanuatu. When the Confucius Classroom came in, it brought more dynamism to our university and it has since helped elevate our campus to a higher level that we have not had before," he said, adding that "We have now become a good place for those who want to learn Chinese language and culture here. Many people have shared my such feeling."
Echoing Ruben's views, 22-year-old Adonnai Varahu and 24-year-old Jica Massing, students at the Emalus campus and both have learnt Chinese language for six months, told Xinhua that they love to learn Chinese language and culture as they have opened up their eyes and believe learning Chinese will be helpful for their future career.
Adonnai who visited China after learning Chinese language said "Chinese language and culture are my favorite ... I want to continue my Chinese language learning as long as I can and I really want to speak Chinese as fluently as I speak English. I believe this will help my career in the future, and it will give me an advantage over a lot of people. I will do something in the future to help promote the mutual understanding between Vanuatuans and Chinese."
Both said they love the Chinese teachers who have taught them a lot. Ruben also joined them in voicing his satisfaction with the Chinese teachers, saying that "we are proud of them as they work very hard and always have good cooperation with us."
Wang Xiaoshi, who has been a Chinese teacher at the Emalus campus for one year, told Xinhua that "I am one of the teachers honored to teach the lovely students of the Pacific region Chinese language and culture."
"Teaching Chinese language here is actually a hard work, but it also makes us feel like our life is meaningful as this is good to the friendship between China and the South Pacific region. We will do our best to help our students," said Wang, who also had worked in the Cook Islands for two years as a Chinese teacher.
According to Yang Hui, Chinese director of the Confucius Institute at the University of the South Pacific (CI-USP), headquartered in the Fijian capital of Suva, the CI-USP was co-built by the USP and Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications (BUPT) in 2012.
More than 4,000 students have since graduated from the CI-USP and more than 100 cultural activities have been held.
The Confucius Classroom at the Emalus campus was established in 2015 as there is a higher demand of learning Chinese language.
"The work of the Confucius Institute is a huge challenge, but it is also significant and worth doing as it will help us build a bridge of friendship between China and the world, of course including the South Pacific island nations," she said.
For his part, Zhou Haicheng, the new Chinese Ambassador to Vanuatu, told Xinhua that the Confucius Institute has played an important role in the cultural exchanges between China and countries like Vanuatu, believing that the Confucius Institute will help strengthen China's friendship with the South Pacific island countries.
"The Confucius Institute at the University of the South Pacific is the goodwill ambassador of cultural exchange and friendship between China and Vanuatu. It will help deepen the mutual understanding and good relationship between our two countries," he said.
Currently, there are over 500 Confucius Institutes and more than 1,000 Confucius Classrooms around the globe.