WINDHOEK, Oct. 2 (Xinhua) -- Before enrolling for a course in Chinese language, 15-year-old Ashishe Nandjebo was shy to interact with people of other nationalities. But the course now has changed that.
"Learning Chinese language and culture has made me an intellectual. I am now comfortable communicating with people from diverse backgrounds," she said earlier this week.
Nandjebo is among the first group of learners at Immanuel Shifidi Secondary School in Windhoek who enrolled for the Chinese language classes in 2016.
"I developed an interest in learning Chinese so that I would be able to bring Chinese people and African people together," she said.
Now in the second semester of her program, Nandjebo has learnt more than the language -- she is also quite conversant with Chinese culture.
"I am able to relate to the food, items, instruments and dance. Complementary, with exposure to Chinese cuisine and wider culture helps me master the language better and speak better Mandarin," she added.
More youth in Namibia are learning the language.
Only a year into the program, for Nandjebo's schoolmate Hanna Hipangelwa, learning Chinese language has been a gateway to new opportunities.
"At 17, I never imagined flying to China for a summer camp early this year, but learning Chinese made this possible," said Hipangelwa.
In Namibia, Chinese language education and training is provided through the Confucius Institute at the University of Namibia. The institute, which offers Chinese language and cooking classes have thus far trained an accumulative number of 767 students since its establishment in August 2013.
Not only have the number of scholars increased, but the Chinese institute teaching sites have also been expanded -- courses are now offered at three other satellite campuses of the University. This is in addition to free Chinese courses offered at four secondary schools, including Immanuel Shifidi Secondary School, in the capital.
"Leaning the Chinese language has been a great experience, it was difficult at first but with time it becomes easier," Nandjebo said.
With the love for the Chinese language, Nandjebo dreams of pursuing her tertiary studies in China. "I hope to get a scholarship to go and study in China."
Hipangelwa too has future plans with learning the Chinese language.
"I want to boost my academic CV. In fact, it is the business language for the future, one cannot afford not to speak it," said Hipangelwa.