Meet­ing his mas­ter

ChinAfrica - - Life­style -

In 2012, Bakhoum en­rolled in Chi­nese cour­ses at Gas­ton Berger Uni­ver­sity in Saint-louis, Sene­gal. There, he met Pro­fes­sor Wu Zhaoqi in an en­counter that would change his life. Bakhoum still keeps close ties with Wu, a Chi­nese lan­guage teacher whom he now con­sid­ers his “mas­ter.”

“He is a re­mark­ably ver­sa­tile teacher. He prac­tices tai­ji­quan, plays the pipa and mas­tered Chi­nese cal­lig­ra­phy,” he re­called. From his men­tor, Bakhoum has learned sim­plic­ity, mod­esty and a con­vic­tion that any­one can learn the Chi­nese lan­guage, if they put their heart into it.

“Chi­nese is a lan­guage for au­da­cious peo­ple. It might seem dif­fi­cult for be­gin­ners, but the more you ad­vance in learn­ing, the eas­ier it be­comes,” he said.

In­deed, the Sene­galese teacher has found that Chi­nese and lo­cal lan­guages and cul­ture in Sene­gal have more in com­mon than first meets the eye, such as a base-10 count­ing sys­tem, a fo­cus on the male head of the fam­ily, and the im­por­tance of tra­di­tions.

Bakhoum looks back on his lin­guis­tic jour­ney in a way that sum­ma­rizes well his op­ti­mistic and mo­ti­vat­ing na­ture: “De­ter­mi­na­tion is a pow­er­ful thing... If I was able to reach such a high level [of Man­darin], it means my stu­dents can too!”

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