Feature: Chinese language mastery unlocks opportunities for S. Sudanese youths

JUBA, Dec. 8 (Xinhua) -- Since the inauguration of the Chinese language learning and cultural exchange program in July 2021, many South Sudanese youths enrolling in language classes have realized the importance of mandarin.

Mayiik Deng Mayiik, 25, is one of the pioneer students currently attending the fifth term of the program at the Chinese Language Learning Center located at Juba Day Secondary School.

He told Xinhua during a recent interview in the South Sudanese capital of Juba that his proficiency in the Chinese language has improved dramatically, thanks to his decision to attend all lessons.

Mayiik observed that learning Mandarin will help improve the people-to-people relationships and bilateral ties between South Sudan and China.

"Chinese people are skilled; I am sure that through this culture and language exchange, we will be able to learn from them," said Mayiik.

He said there are many job opportunities from Chinese companies in almost every part of South Sudan for local youths who can speak fluent Mandarin.

The Chinese Language Learning Center has welcomed hundreds of learners and visitors since being inaugurated by the South Sudanese Ministry of General Education and Instruction.

The Chinese language learning and cultural exchange program under the second phase of the China-Aided Technical Cooperation Project in Education is facilitated by Chinese language and cultural experts from the Shanghai Educational Publishing House.

The program, which is free of charge, is open to South Sudanese from all walks of life and has attracted both school-going children and working adults.

Puoch Simon Tut, a 40-year-old staff in the Ministry of Defense and Veterans Affairs, said for the one year he has spent learning Chinese, he is proud to be able to communicate it at length with confidence.

Tut said he looked forward to March 23 next year with excitement when he will be able to earn his Chinese language certificate upon completing his studies.

"When I acquire the certificate, I will take it to my superiors at the ministry in order to demonstrate to them my language skills," Tut said.

"I am going to bring some of my colleagues to enroll for the language classes because the world is changing at a fast pace, and we, as South Sudanese, do not want to be left behind," he added.

Ustaz George Kenyi, head teacher at Juba Day Secondary School, said when the program was opened to the public, the learning facility was overwhelmed by people, "but we restricted absorbing them to about 30 students after three months."

"In this globalized world, culture is a critical component when you want to make the people come closer to each other; they need to learn from each one's culture so that it will be easier for them to integrate," he added.

Zhao Yongqiang, a 32-year-old Chinese language and culture facilitator and also the residential supervisor for the center, said language and cultural exchange is not a unilateral output, but a two-way interaction.

"South Sudan is a warm and friendly country, and the South Sudanese people are hardworking and brave," Zhao said when asked about his impression of the country after his experience of eighteen months in Juba.

Up to the end of Nov. 2022, the center has given about a hundred certificates to the learners who have demonstrated passion and competence in the Chinese language.

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