Tanzania Chinese Learning Student expressed his experience about China

CHINA IN MY EYES – CHINESE SUMMER CAMP 2017

The theme of this report is 'China in My Eyes'. In this report I did my best level to describe my multiple dimension experience in China including what I saw, heard, learnt and felt of China's traditional culture, philosophy, scenery, social customs, modern elements, and the inspiration and benefit I got from the trip to China.
BY Costantine Kulwa Paschal
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Looking back at history, although I was not born yet, China established diplomatic relations with Tanganyika and Zanzibar on December 9, 1961, and December 11, 1963, respectively. When Tanganyika and Zanzibar were united and became Tanzania on April 26, 1964, it was natural for China to extend its diplomatic relations with Tanzania. In 1970 the Chinese took over from the Canadians as the major supplier of military assistance to Tanzania, both in terms of equipment and training for the army, navy, and air force. From the outset of bilateral relations, China has assisted Tanzania with a variety of generous economic aid programs. The most notable early aid project was the TAZARA Railway built from 1970 to 1975. A total fund of 988 million Yuan was provided along with labors and technical assistance. A total of 1,860 km railway was constructed and became an advantage to Tanzania in economy by connecting Tanzania and Zambia. The landlocked railway helped to transport cargos from Dar es Salaam port to Zambia. Not only that but also I always remember in 2011, the Chinese government assisted the construction of Benjamin Mkapa Olympic Stadium, namely the National Stadium.

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I started learning Chinese language and culture when I was in the last year (2016) of my degree studies at University of Dar es Salaam, people were shocked to see me learning Chinese language and they asked “what motivated you to learn Chinese language?”, this was my answer and it will remain to be my answer forever, “I was motivated to learn Chinese language because Chinese language is the most useful language by today’s global marketplace and China is the 2nd largest economic country in the World. China has the fast growing economy, technological advancement and the global ranking education institutes”, so I believed that learning Chinese language in this competitive era is inevitable. Being a student of Chinese language was an advantage to my life and it was like a dream comes true because I was selected to be one of the twenty members of the Chinese summer campers 2017 to visit China for twenty days from 31st July to 20th August.

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On the departure day 30th July 2017, we arrived at Mwalimu Julius Nyerere International Airport (JNIA) Dar es Salaam ready for safari. Around 14:30hrs we boarded to fly to Shanghai via Dubai by using Emirates flight. After five hours we landed at Dubai Airport and stayed there for three hours while waiting for connection to another Emirates flight which fly from Dubai to Shanghai, this flight was very big and very beautiful; inside my heart I said “for sure China deserves to be China”.
As the flight neared Shanghai, I was very curious to see Shanghai, the biggest city in China. As I was sighting the city via the flight window I was instantly awestruck by its beauty and splendor. I was very happy to see with my vivid eyes the Chinese ancient-style buildings, pagodas and numerous modern sky scrapers. At evening around 16:00Hrs we landed at Shanghai Pudong Airport, dumb-founded with admiration at its achievements.
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Three hours later, I was put on a modern VIP Bus to Zhejiang province. As the bus passed through the city and it was night, I sighted many beautiful buildings well designed with attractive lights. I was attracted by the intricate transport network and ring roads I have never seen before. Around 23:30hrs we arrived at Zhejiang Normal University which is located at Jinhua city, the beautiful city of Zhejiang Province. Zhejiang Normal University happens to be one of the best and most reputable universities in the country.
I was impressed that there were more than 30 African students who lived at the campus; it made me felt China as my second homeland. We stayed at foreign students dormitory, the dormitory was very beautiful, full air conditioners and CCTV cameras.
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Not only that but also the bathrooms were very modern with cold and hot showers and most of the services at the dormitory were automated for example we used to buy soft drinks at automatic seller machines without going out of the dormitory. Because it was summer period the weather was very hot (up to 38 degrees centigrade) but we were provided with umbrellas to protect our heads from the scorching sun.

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Life in Campus (Daxue de shenghuo) was enlightening, I observed that the Chinese students were the most disciplined and punctual students I had never encountered in all my years of study, they hurriedly rode their bicycles to school while at the same time ate their breakfast. Chinese lecturers (laoshi) had a culture of punctuality too, running into the lecture room and start classes on time. They had utmost respect for the students and never complained when a student’s understanding is poor. I found that the Chinese people had a unique working culture; hardworking, sacrificial spirit of patriotism for collective national goal and completing projects well before deadline.
What was so fascinating was that everywhere I turned, like magic, construction works developed into new infrastructure in no time. This was a testimony to me that China’s development is because of its people’s attitude.
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I appreciate Chinese music, one love song I always remember “yue liang dai biao wo de xin”, wherever I listen to this song my heart flutters. I also appreciate Chinese cultural dance, green tea (lu cha), lemon juice and Chinese food, I was surprised to learn that Chinese measure the value of food by the nutrients in that plant or animal food and not in the taste or how well the aroma or packaging of the dish, It was surprising that a 70 year old man in the village or a 7 year old girl in town would be telling you about the value in a food like tofu, which to me was considered tasteless and not appeasing.

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I cannot forget travel (luyou) opportunities; we visited two historical sites with more than 2000 years, Jinhua Museum, China Wu Opera Grand Theatre and Shanghai, At Shanghai the biggest city in China I saw tallest buildings I had never seen in my entire life. For a moment I was overwhelmed and feared the buildings might collapse on me.

Tanzania Chinese Learning Student expressed his experience about China

We also visited Yiwu international trade market, one of the biggest market place for international trades. At Yiwu I was surprised with cheap prices of the stuffs (dongxi), sometimes six times compared to the price of the same stuff in our country. My experiences and exposure in China went as far as traveling on the Shanghai Maglev (bullet) train with top speed of 431km/h from Yiwu to Jinhua, I learnt that the Shanghai Maglev train is the fastest commercial train service and that China’s high speed railway is the longest in the world.

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To be honest at first days I faced a lot of challenges; the language, food and levels of Science and Technology among many other things but my short period of being in China changed me into a Chinese person in character and this is exhibited by my good work ethics of honesty and hard work.

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Below is a semi-poetic sequence with the theme ‘I remember’.
I remember how I struggled to cope with the time difference for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
I remember how I struggled to choose Chinese food at cafeteria (shitang).
I remember how interesting it was learning how to use chopsticks.
I remember how people were shocked to see an African eating noodles and rice with chopsticks.
I remember how much fun it was to see shopkeepers get shocked at seeing me speaking poor Mandarin when buying stuffs.
I remember how nice it was to see many Chinese people even grandparents doing exercises at evening.
I remember how fun it was to watch live opera at China Wu Opera Grand Theatre.
I remember how I used the China online shopping sites like Taobao.
I remember how much fun negotiating was in the Yiwu international Trade market.
I remember how it was difficult for me during kongfu classes.
I remember how we enjoyed playing basketball with girls.
I remember how quickly Chinese people walked, leaving you with a sense of urgency.
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What has been my impression coming out from China? It is not by chance that China is the second largest economy in the world. It has been achieved through a strong common purpose weaved by a common language. The fact that a nation of over one billion people can live without hunger has been key to the good health and hard work of the people. Science and technology contributes very much to the China’s development. My country Tanzania needs to invest more in science and technology to build industries that can compete in this competitive era. I am not in China right now, but each night I sleep with confidence and a smile on my face that I passed through the process of modern China.