Across China: An African boy's vocational education adventure in China

Source: Xinhua| 2019-04-25 20:36:59|Editor: mingmei
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JINAN, April 25 (Xinhua) -- Sergio Thompson, a 19-year-old boy from Ghana, never thought he would master car repairs in a private vocational school in China.

After four years of study, Sergio can now assemble and dismantle a car engine in 20 minutes with a blindfold covering his eyes.

"The experience in China is just like Sergio's Adventures in Wonderland," he said.

Lanxiang Vocational School in east China's Shandong Province, where Sergio studies, has long been well-known for education in practical skills, including cooking, auto repairs and hairdressing.

Chinese skilled workers and vocational education have drawn attention around the globe when more and more construction projects are carried out by Chinese companies all over the world, especially in countries participating in the Belt and Road Initiative.

"I heard a lot about the vocational education in China when I was in Ghana," said Sergio, who got the Chinese name Liu Yang, literally meaning studying overseas, when he became the first foreign student of Lanxiang Vocational School.

Sergio used to know nothing about China except for Jackie Chan and Chinese Kung fu movies, so understanding the language was his first mission.

"Liu Yang used to have a rough time when he just arrived in China. He could not understand anything," said Sergio's roommate Chen Junyu. "He cried a lot when he was making video calls to his mother in Ghana."

However, he managed to overcome such difficulties in a short time. He kept learning Chinese and put Chinese learning cards everywhere in his room.

To practise speaking, he often dialed the hotline of China Mobile, the country's largest mobile service carrier.

After one year, Sergio was able to talk fluently with his teachers and classmates, and became one of the best students in class.

"Assembling and dismantling car engines with a blindfold is an example of his ability," said Pang Zizhen, Sergio's teacher. "In order to do that, the operator must be fully aware of the internal structure of the engine, which requires a lot of practice."

"There is a large car ownership in China, as well as advanced technique of car maintenance. The school offers me many internship opportunities, which helped me a lot," Sergio said. He already has a solid foundation for his career.

Li Baode, deputy head of Lanxiang Vocational School, said the school has admitted more foreign students, including those from Namibia, Japan, Germany and Australia. Most have chosen majors like machinery, cooking, excavator and E-sports, according to Li.

"I trust the vocational education in China," said Max, a German roommate of Sergio. Max is a player of the game League of Legends and came to Lanxiang to study E-sports theories and techniques, which would help him participate in international matches.

Earlier this year the central government vowed to expand the enrollment of higher vocational colleges to 1 million students this year.

Sergio will graduate from Lanxiang and go back to Ghana this summer. He and his father Benjamin Thompson are considering starting up a vocational school in Ghana, teaching local people to repair and maintain automobiles.

"I will invite Chinese teachers to Ghana and give lessons. Since I have learned a lot in China, it is my wish to let more and more African people know about this wonderful country," Sergio said.