Feature: Learning Chinese increasingly popular in Lebanon amid growing trade ties

Source: Xinhua| 2019-02-27 22:25:13|Editor: Liangyu
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A Lebanese girl shows her name card in Chinese at the Confucius Institute of Saint Joseph University in Beirut, Lebanon, Feb. 27, 2019. The increasing trade ties between Lebanon and China have encouraged more Lebanese to be involved in the Chinese culture and traditions. Young Lebanese students are developing an intellectual curiosity to learn Chinese. (Xinhua/Bilal Jawich)

by Dana Halawi

BEIRUT, Feb. 27 (Xinhua) -- The increasing trade ties between Lebanon and China have encouraged more Lebanese to be involved in the Chinese culture and traditions.

One way to gain increased awareness about the Chinese culture is to learn China's rich language, and young Lebanese students are developing an intellectual curiosity to learn Chinese.

"I love Chinese," said Nadim Sheety, a 7-year-old student studying at Lycee Fronco-Libanais in Beirut.

Sheety told Xinhua that his teacher at school taught students about China and the Forbidden City, a palace complex in central Beijing.

"The teacher gave us a project about China and since then I realized how interesting the culture is. It is a completely new world for me," said Sheety, who is learning Chinese at Confucius Institute, a Chinese language and cultural center at Saint Joseph University in Lebanon.

Sheety's mom expressed how happy she is that her son is learning Chinese.

However, she said there should be more awareness in Lebanon about the places that teach the Chinese language.

"It took me a long time to find out that Saint Joseph University has such courses," she said.

Adam Eid, a 7-year-old student studying Chinese at Confucius Institute as well, told Xinhua that he traveled around five times to China because his father is doing business with the country.

"I loved it. I decided right away that I want to learn Chinese. I wish I can live in China for some time to get to know more about the culture and practice the language," he said.

Growing number of university students also learn about the importance of Chinese which adds value to their careers.

"Learning Chinese has given me the chance to work with big companies that deal with China," said Gacia Dekermejian, a Lebanese University graduate with a bachelor degree in Chinese language.

Dekermejian helps companies in marketing their products in China by translating their stories online from Arabic and English to Chinese.

She also works for Elie Saab, a Lebanese fashion designer, by marketing his products online in Chinese.

Likewise, Caren Chemali, who also graduated with a bachelor degree in the Chinese language from the Lebanese University, said her university studies were of great importance and advantage to her career.

"I am proud to be a university teacher of Chinese language at the age of 21," she said.

Chemali, who teaches at the Holy Spirit University of Kaslik, also gives private lessons for people who are interested in the language.

Liu Li, former vice-director at Confucius Institute, said that some of the institute's students were employed by Chinese companies in Dubai while others have majored in translation and they succeeded in finding jobs in the field.

Liu said that most of the teenagers who are learning the language have parents who are doing business with China.

He also noted that most of the Institute's students say that Chinese language will give them an opportunity to have a great future.

"Teenagers are not forced to learn the language. They are very devoted and they love it," he said.

The Lebanese University is the only educational establishment in Lebanon to offer a bachelor degree in Chinese language.

Other universities such as Saint Joseph University and the Holy Spirit University of Kaslik offer selective courses to their students.

While learning Chinese is gaining more and more momentum among the Lebanese, Liu believe that there is still a long way to go before the language gets well spread in Lebanon.

Liu stated that by the end of last year, students registered at Confucius Institute reached 302 for the two semesters while they have been increasing at the annual rate of 10 percent for the past five years.

Liu said that 10 students from all over Lebanon got scholarships to study in a university in China in partnership with Confucius Institute.

"Every year, we host a summer camp in China. Last year we had 19 students who went for summer camps and spent 10 days learning the Chinese language and culture with another four days touring in Beijing," he said.

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