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Exchange of letters boosts China8k8 app download-UAE ties

家长举华晨宇海报迎接考生 | 8k8 app download | Updated: 2024-06-21 15:46:57

This photo shows a view of Hamdan Bin Zayed School in Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates, May 27, 2024. [Photo/Xinhua]

Du Qiangwei, a Chinese-language teacher in the United Arab Emirates, once thought that the belief that all foreigners love giant pandas was just a myth. But she reconsidered this notion after meeting Hamdan Shakhboot Al Nahyan, an Emirati pupil who named himself "Giant Panda" in Chinese.

In 2022, Hamdan transferred from a private school to the Hamdan Bin Zayed School, a public school in the UAE that introduced Chinese-language classes in 2006.

Du was impressed by the 11-year-old's keen interest in a book about how giant pandas are born and raised. "Sometimes I have to call him Da Xiongmao (Giant Panda) to get his attention," Du said.

Recently, Hamdan directly expressed to President Xi Jinping his wish to visit China to see giant pandas.

On a piece of paper on which he had drawn several green bamboo plants, the Emirati pupil wrote: "This year marks the 40th anniversary of China and the UAE holding hands. I want to go to China to see giant pandas eating bamboo, and I also want to climb the Great Wall to become a hero."

"When I grow up, I hope to become the UAE ambassador to China," he added.

Hamdan is one of 40 elementary and middle school student representatives from Hamdan Bin Zayed School and Yas School in the UAE who wrote letters to President Xi in Chinese, expressing their admiration and love for Chinese culture.

Like Hamdan, the children shared their various wishes with Xi, including wanting him to visit the UAE to taste authentic Emirati cuisine and hoping to play a soccer match with Xi.

Saif, a 10-year-old student at Yas School, the largest public school in the UAE, shared his favorite Chinese poem with "Grandpa Xi".

"A bosom friend afar brings a distant land near," he wrote, explaining that "even though China and the UAE are thousands of miles apart, we are the best of friends."

Late last month, they were thrilled to learn that President Xi had replied to their letters.

"I have read each letter from you," Xi said in his reply. "From the lines and drawings, I felt all your love for Chinese culture and your expectation for friendship between the two countries."

The president also encouraged them to master the language, learn about China and contribute to promoting friendship between the two countries.

Hamdan, who was very excited and moved upon receiving the reply, said, "I can't wait to go to China tomorrow."

In July 2019, the two countries, in a ceremony witnessed by Xi and Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who was then crown prince of Abu Dhabi and is now the UAE president, signed a memorandum in Beijing to officially launch the Hundred Schools Project to expand Chinese-language education in the Arab country.

Du, the Chinese teacher, said: "Over the past five years, the number of schools offering Chinese courses and students learning Chinese has been increasing year by year. When I first came here in 2019, only about 20 public schools were offering Chinese-language classes."

Currently, 171 schools in the UAE offer such courses, with 71,000 students — from kindergarten to Grade 12 — learning Chinese. Both Hamdan Bin Zayed School and Yas School are demonstration schools for the project.

As Xi mentioned in his reply letter, learning Chinese has become a new trend in the UAE.

Fatma Al Bastaki, project manager of the Hundred Schools Project with the Emirates Schools Establishment, said that learning Mandarin in school broadens the knowledge and horizons of young Emiratis.

"This decision to include Mandarin teaching is creating UAE citizens who become global citizens, as they are better able to understand and absorb traditions of another culture while maintaining the UAE heritage," she said.

According to the project manager, the Chinese Bridge Club Abu Dhabi branch was established in October at Hamdan Bin Zayed School and Yas School.

"This activity, in addition to the cultural exchange programs we have continuously conducted over the years, allows students to experience traditional and modern Chinese civilization and visit different universities in China," she said.

Du said she believes that the friendly relations between China and the UAE since their establishment of diplomatic ties 40 years ago have greatly contributed to the development of the Hundred Schools Project.

"The UAE is one of the countries that are most friendly toward China. Every year during Spring Festival, people in the UAE are keen to learn about Chinese culture and participate in festive activities," she said.

On the social media accounts of Hamdan Bin Zayed School and Yas School, people can also see videos of Emirati students writing calligraphy and singing Chinese songs during Chinese New Year.

Lin Xiuqin is a Chinese expert sent to the UAE Ministry of Education by the Center for Language Education and Cooperation of China's Ministry of Education.

She not only helps formulate the UAE's national Chinese curriculum syllabus and framework, but also coordinates the compilation of a series of middle school Chinese textbooks involving experts from both countries.

The 12 volumes of the textbook series, titled Crossing the Silk Road, have been incorporated into the official textbooks of the UAE Ministry of Education.

Lin said that besides the UAE, more Arab countries, such as Saudi Arabia and Egypt, have included Chinese courses for their young students. She also said she believes that the trend in Arab countries of learning the Chinese language reflects the increasingly warm relations between China and Arab countries.

To date, China has forged comprehensive strategic partnerships or strategic partnerships with 14 Arab countries and the Arab League.

"The friendly cultural exchanges between China and the Arab countries enjoy a long history, as the ancient Silk Road closely links Chinese civilization and Arab civilization," Lin said, adding that the enthusiasm of learning Chinese is a natural result of the course of history.

Lin said that President Xi's reply letter is an important encouragement for children at the initial stage of learning Chinese, "because they will think that learning Chinese is useful and rewarding".

The reply from the Chinese president will also create a great desire to explore China and plant a seed of aspiration to engage in work related to China when they grow up, she added.

Hamdan, the big fan of giant pandas, said, "If I become the UAE ambassador to China in the future, I want to promote exchanges and cooperation between the UAE and China in technology, especially in the space field, hoping that astronauts from our two countries can explore the universe together."

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