Feature: South Sudanese acquire new skills through visits to China

Source: Xinhua| 2018-08-04 22:43:58|Editor: yan
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JUBA, Aug. 4 (Xinhua) -- Majority of South Sudan's nationals who are returning home from maiden visits to China are bringing on board fresh ideas and skills that have benefited their immediate families and the wider society.

Dhieu William Goch, a 30-year-old beneficiary of a Chinese government scholarship to study a post-graduate degree in journalism, has transformed after spending a year in the world's second largest economy.

Goch told Xinhua in a recent interview in Juba that the study tour in China not only refined his journalistic skills but also exposed him to a rich culture.

"I learnt that journalism is not only about accountability, governance but setting development agenda. In China there is constructive journalism which looks at positive trends that South Sudan can adopt to help our society unite for development," said the graduate of Beijing-based Communication University of China.

Goch said he spent time studying the media landscape in Beijing and believes that South Sudanese can embrace media literacy concept popular in Chinese society to help in mitigating hate speech and conflict.

He also disclosed that he was surprised to find out that Chinese view Africa as one country due to the fact Europeans colonized the continent several decades ago.

"They (Chinese) believe that English is the only language Africans speak because they were colonized by Europeans. So every time they see an African they say hello, they seem not to know we have our own languages in Africa," Goch said.

"They see Africans as one country, they don't believe that Africans come from different countries," he added.

Goch disclosed that Chinese and Africans are benefiting from cultural exchange and people-to-people interactions as both learn from each other.

"Chinese think that getting in touch with African friends is an opportunity to learn English; The same with us Africans learning Mandarin from them," he said.

Goch who is already scouting for lecturing job at one Juba-based university, revealed that Chinese despite coming from different culture and provinces are united and South Sudanese need to learn from this model.

Bol Acigak Kiir, 28, managing director of Cypress Trading and Investment Company that deals in construction and supply of oil sector equipment, also said he learnt a lot from his maiden visit to China's Hunan and Guangdong provinces last year.

He was invited by the China Ministry of Commerce on short business trip which was facilitated through South Sudan China Friendship Association (SSCHIFA) which was established in Juba in February 2017 to help South Sudanese citizens to interact with their Chinese counterparts through people to people exchanges.

He told Xinhua that he made new business friends in Guangzhou after visiting several companies that manufacture phones, clothes and those dealing in gold and added that some of these contacts told him they are interested in investing in South Sudan.

"I have made friends while in China with people from West Africa and South America that I would not have met. Some Chinese entrepreneurs told me they want to invest in South Sudan when the security improves," said Kiir.

Kiir said South Sudan can learn from China which earns huge revenues from its diversified high-tech exports with ready market in Europe, America and Africa, while South Sudan has a heavy reliance on oil exports.

"South Sudan needs to diversify its economy by investing cash earned from its oil sector into value-addition sector like agro-processing to export products like sesame and honey to China that would complement oil exports and reduce on the burgeoning import bill," he said.

Kuol Arop, 28, a cargo aviation operator said he went to China's Chengdu in Sichuan province on a three-week study program on renewable energy and has since picked interest in solar energy and bio-gas after he saw firsthand how Chinese companies make solar energy and bio-gas.

He said South Sudan can tap into clean energy to minimize negative effects on the environment and cut costs related to thermal power since the country is hugely endowed with abundant sunshine throughout the year but it's not being utilized as most people buy fuel to operate generators to light their homes and run businesses.

At least 4,100 scholarships have been offered to South Sudanese on long and short-term training programs in the past four years, according to data from the Chinese Embassy in South Sudan.

Dut Abednego, the head of SSCHIFA, said they have facilitated over 70 South Sudanese to visit China since last year promoting people to people exchanges alongside business ties.

"I went to China last year to study logistics and transport and we were really taken around the various big logistics organizations. I saw how they are good at logistics, how they import goods from Africa and how their companies process tobacco into cigar. It was a good thing when I came back here I feel like establishing my own transportation company because we also learnt how to do transport," said Abednego.

"So when you go to China whether for three weeks on short courses or 90 days or one year for master's degree it is really of good help to us South Sudanese because when you come back you start thinking of doing something than sitting down because you see a different environment, ideas and energy those people are putting in that give you encouragement," he added.