For­eign stu­dents be­come im­mersed in Chi­nese cul­ture

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - NATION - By HU YONGQI

Since she was a child, Amelie De­grande, a 19-year-old from a small town in Bel­gium, has wanted to learn kung fu in China.

She is now ful­fill­ing that dream at Yun­nan Univer­sity.

De­grande is one of 357 stu­dents at the univer­sity’s School of Over­seas Stu­dents, which is sup­ported by the Of­fice of Chi­nese Lan­guage Coun­cil In­ter­na­tional — known col­lo­qui­ally as Han­ban — that over­sees the Con­fu­cius In­sti­tute.

She can now ride a uni­cy­cle, per­form ac­ro­batic move­ments and jug­gle up to seven balls.

Her out­go­ing per­son­al­ity drove her to be more in­volved with lo­cals in Kun­ming, where she said peo­ple seem “ad­dicted” to singing and danc­ing.

In her spare time, De­grande strolls around the Green Lake Park, east of the univer­sity. She said it’s been fun try­ing to imi­tate tra­di­tional Ti­betan and Lisu folk songs and dances. She now is flu­ent in five dif­fer­ent eth­nic dance styles.

Dur­ing the sum­mer, De­grande vis­ited Dali Bai au­ton­o­mous pre­fec­ture, a tourist desti­na­tion in western Yun­nan. She stayed a week in a Ti­betan monastery to ob­serve the monks’ daily lives and learn about Chi­nese phi­los­o­phy and the­ory from a monk. the num­ber of stu­dents from 30 coun­tries and re­gions that Yun­nan Univer­sity has trained since 1988

“It’s pretty amaz­ing that the the­o­ries are much dif­fer­ent from what I un­der­stood, show­ing the pro­found­ness of the Chi­nese cul­ture,” she said.

To meet the needs of stu­dents like De­grande, who are in­ter­ested in Chi­nese cul­ture, the school pro­vides op­tional classes such as learn­ing tai chi, Chi­nese chess and how to con­duct a tea cer­e­mony. The op­tional classes have at­tracted a large num­ber of stu­dents, mostly from East and South­east Asia.

Chen Xin, chief re­cruiter at the school, said more than 60 per­cent of the stu­dents are from Asia. The school main­tains ex­changes with more than 80 uni­ver­si­ties in 20 coun­tries. Since 1988, the school has trained more than 15,000 stu­dents from 30 coun­tries and re­gions.

“Many of the grad­u­ates bridge the cul­tural gap be­tween their coun­tries and Yun­nan in China. In this sense, the lan­guage cur­ric­ula is just one medium for them to get in­volved with the Chi­nese peo­ple and the coun­try’s so­cial de­vel­op­ment,” Chen said.

HU YONGQI / CHINA DAILY

Amelie De­grande, 19, of Bel­gium, who is ea­ger to learn kung fu in China, shows her tal­ent by jug­gling balls.

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