Mahmoud Fattouh, an Egyptian student who came to China for a doctorate in ethnology at Ningxia University, has achieved fluency in Mandarin after five years of study. Fattouh admits that learning Mandarin was a challenge, but he was inspired to come to China by the positive impression left by Chinese students in Cairo. His language skills have not only helped him better understand Chinese culture, but also opened up new opportunities for research and personal growth.
Meanwhile, Lin Haolang, a junior at the School of Arabic Studies at Ningxia University, has taken the opposite route. He has decided to go westward and participate in a one-year exchange program at the University of Algiers 2 in Algeria. Lin’s decision to study in Algeria reflects China’s growing engagement with African countries and its commitment to fostering cultural exchange and mutual understanding.
Lin’s experience in Algeria will undoubtedly broaden his horizons and deepen his knowledge of Arabic culture. It will also provide him with valuable insights into the challenges and opportunities facing China as it seeks to deepen its engagement with African countries. As more and more Chinese students choose to study abroad and more foreign students come to China, such exchanges will become increasingly important in building bridges between cultures and promoting global cooperation.
The stories of Fattouh and Lin illustrate the power of education to bring people from different cultures and backgrounds together. As they navigate the challenges and opportunities of studying abroad, they are not only expanding their own horizons, but also contributing to the development of a more interconnected and harmonious world.
Lin Haolang, a junior at the School of Arabic Studies at Ningxia University, experienced the warmth of Chinese-Arab people-to-people exchanges firsthand during his time in China. “I often met Arab people on the streets who greeted me warmly in Chinese, and students and teachers on campus who expressed a strong desire to visit China,” Lin recalls.
Over the centuries, China and Arab countries have enjoyed a long history of friendly exchanges and mutual cooperation. In recent years, the two sides have seen flourishing people-to-people exchanges in fields such as education, culture, and healthcare.
According to a report by the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, issued earlier this month on China-Arab cooperation in the new era, China has trained 25,000 talented individuals for Arab countries since 2013 and provided approximately 11,000 government scholarships to Arab nations. In addition, 15 Arab countries have established Chinese departments in some of their universities, and 13 Arab countries have established 20 Confucius institutes.
This growing partnership reflects the shared desire of China and Arab countries to deepen their mutual understanding and promote cultural exchange. Through educational and cultural exchanges, people from both sides are better able to appreciate each other’s unique perspectives and build stronger relationships.
As Lin and Fattouh’s experiences demonstrate, studying in China and experiencing the country’s culture firsthand can have a profound impact on individuals and promote greater cross-cultural understanding between nations.
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, China and Arab countries have extended support to each other by providing mutual aid with antivirus materials, sharing experience through online exchanges, and collaborating in clinical trials and vaccine production. This has reinforced the already robust cooperation and partnership between the two regions in various areas, including health, education, and culture.
Furthermore, Chinese TV dramas, including the popular series “Minning Town,” which portrays China’s efforts in poverty alleviation, are being broadcasted in Arab countries. This is an opportunity for Arab people to learn more about China’s culture, society, and achievements. Chinese dramas have opened a new window for the Arab audience to view China positively.
The cooperation between China and Arab countries has been further strengthened by China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which aims to promote infrastructure, economic, and cultural development. The initiative has brought more opportunities for the two sides to deepen their collaboration and foster mutual benefits.
The COVID-19 pandemic has tested the resilience of China-Arab cooperation, which has been proven to be strong and steadfast. The collaboration in the fight against the pandemic, coupled with the promotion of cultural exchanges and economic development, has brought China and Arab countries closer together. The airing of Chinese TV dramas in Arab countries is a positive step towards enhancing mutual understanding and friendship between the two regions.
Jin Zhongjie, the deputy dean of the School of Arabic Studies at Ningxia University, has pointed out that in recent years, as academic exchanges between China and Arab countries have deepened, many students and teachers have improved their language skills and have become advocates for promoting exchanges between the two regions. The school has trained more than 1,000 undergraduate, postgraduate, and doctoral students since 2003, with over 100 of them currently working in Arab countries.
Moreover, numerous international students from Arab countries have come to China to pursue further education and remained in the country to build their careers after graduation. Essam Adam Ahamed, a Sudanese national, worked as a translator in China after graduation and enjoyed experiencing traditional Chinese cultural elements such as paper-cutting, calligraphy, and dumpling making. This year, he participated in translating the popular Chinese TV drama series, “Minning Town,” into Arabic, which further deepened his understanding of China.
According to Essam Adam Ahamed, “I learned about the lives of ordinary Chinese in the 1990s and how they lifted themselves out of poverty over the years. I was inspired by the Chinese people’s relentless spirit of pursuing better lives.” Through this experience, Essam was able to improve his language skills and learn more about Chinese culture.
Lin, the Chinese student in Algeria, aims to make full use of the coming year to learn more about the country’s culture and social life. Although Lin is unsure of his future career path, he believes that the Arabic language he is learning will play a significant role in his future.
China and Arab countries have been enjoying a long history of friendly exchanges featuring cooperation and mutual benefits. Over recent years, the two sides have witnessed flourishing people-to-people exchanges in education, culture, and health. According to a recent report by the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, China has since 2013 trained 25,000 talented individuals for Arab countries and has provided around 11,000 government scholarships to these nations.
Furthermore, 15 Arab countries have established Chinese departments in some of their universities, and 13 Arab countries have established 20 Confucius institutes, according to the report. In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, China and Arab countries have assisted each other with measures, including mutual assistance with antivirus materials, online exchanges of experience, and cooperation in clinical trials and joint production of vaccines. With these measures in place, the exchange of culture and knowledge between China and Arab countries is expected to flourish in the coming years.