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Jason Jean: China in the eyes of a student at Confucius Institute

release date :2013-09-04 09:56:00  |   [ close window ]ViewCount:
Author: News Center of BIT Zhao Lin

Chinese wife makes him attached to "China"

    Jason Jean, a native Canadian guy who is a sociology doctoral student in reading, is a foreign student in Confucius Institute of University of Saskatchewan. He grew up in a small town of Saskatchewan and had never seen a Chinese when he was a little boy. According to him, Canadians know little about Chinese culture despite the fact that many Chinese opened restaurants.

    Until two years ago, he met his classmate---Yi Xi, who is now his wife, when he was enrolled as a sociology doctoral student. That was when he met the first Chinese in person and really began to understand China and Chinese culture.

    Jason has many friends who are interested in the Chinese language and Chinese culture. When he introduces Yi Xi to his friends and family, they all think she is clever and beautiful, and like her very much. "I can feel that there is a cultural gap between Canadians and Chinese people that needs bridging. This is the reason why I want to learn Chinese. Compared with the Chinese classes I took, the Confucius Institute could provide a more systematic and comprehensive curriculum, you can learn more knowledge, but fees are lower, so I chose Saskatchewan Confucius Institute."

Forget time when learning Chinese etiquette

    Jason says that there are only 3 students, besides him in this class. They are Leiken, engineer from Kenya, and John, reporter from Canadian news channel. Although there are few people in the class, they can still help each other. The teacher, Zhang Yanyan, Chinese teacher for foreigners sent by Beijing Language and Culture University, teaches them Chinese pronunciation, traditional Chinese culture, names of Chinese Dishes and Chinese etiquette.

    About Zhang, Jason says, “Zhang really likes to teach us Chinese language and culture. She was busy, but always full of vitality. Our class is from 19:00 to 21:00. We are all very excited about each class, and often forget the time because she always wants to teach us something more. She often invites us to her home to play table tennis, and we all love her!” 

    Jason has been on the Confucius Institute at the four stages of the course. In each stage there are 10 classes during 10 weeks. The learning content are : characters, painting, and pronunciation. They also learn how to treat people politely according to Chinese customs. Jason says: "For example, at the dinner table, if others have not picked up the chopsticks, you are not supposed to be the first." Chinese people pay more attention to etiquette than Canadians, and are also more modest. If you praise a person 'you are awesome'. Canadians will probably reply with ‘Thank you’, ‘Awesome’ or ‘You too, I know’, but the Chinese will say, 'Na Li’.", says he ,with his hands folded in front.

"Foreign president" becomes Grand Chancellor

    Last December, the Confucius Institute established the Chinese Cultural Association, and unexpectedly, the Canadian Jason was elected the first president. He said: "The association also welcome the Chinese people to join in, but we will prevent it being an all-Chinese community." The Confucius Institute deliberately chose a foreign student as president to get the Chinese and Canadian students together. 

    President Yu of Confucius Institute selected Jason because not only is he a Canadian, but he has served in the Student Union as Vice President for 3 years as well. “President Yu set up a high goal for the association, what I have to do is to strive to fulfilling these with the other members."

    Jason thinks that Canadians have not been able to realize the true essence of Chinese culture. For example, Chinese try to design some slogans to get more publicity, but Canadians do not understand the meaning of these slogans.

    After the “foreign president” assumed the post, he came up with lots of programs to attract more people to get to know China, and among the programs, “Game Night” is the most successful. “The twenty minute game night attracts a lot of people, the majority is Canadian, and also some Chinese people. Generally they play Chinese traditional games, such as Chinese chess. “Jason proudly says, “Every time there are a lot of people participating in the games and we often forget the time until someone reminded us”.
    However, not all the programs are greeted with flowers and applause, “Movie Night” seems to have fewer people to take part in although each time Jason will show unique Chinese kung fu film. However, after observation, Jason found the reason, "We usually show the movies at night. If we show them in the afternoons, there should still be relatively high popularity.”
    Talking about the future development of the Association, Jason says: "I hope the association can develop well. We now have 30 members, I want to attract more people who are interested in this club and join our team. We need  fresh blood and vitality.”

    September is a time when Canada welcomes autumn, and is also the first day of school. All associations will set up a stall on campus for propaganda, and this time is the best chance for more attention and publicity. Jason and Chinese Cultural Association's officers will be busy soon.
Epilogue: "foreign president" has a "professor Dream"

     Compared to the Chinese fever in Africa, now there are not a lot of people learning Chinese in Canada. Jason talked about the two reasons for this “Firstly, Canadians get too many negative news about China from the United States, such as Sino-US relations is not good. They see a lot of American television programs, but rarely see any of China’s. But Jason also added that Canadians are very friendly, not hostile to the Chinese people, they just lack understanding of Chinese culture.

    "It is easy to form a small circle among local Chinese. Our school has a lot of Chinese students. They greet each other when they meet. It is difficult for us Canadians to know them, because they feel English is difficult, and tend to communicate in Chinese. This results in distance.”, says he.
    In Jason's eyes, there are a lot of Chinese people in Saskatchewan but they have little influence.
    "I am a foreigner, and my interest in Chinese language and Chinese culture helps me persist in learning." Leiken, Jason's friends, learns Chinese to facilitate his future career in Kenya. Jason also says “if my wife and I have children, I want them to understand Chinese” Jason and his wife Yi Xi have a clear vision of their future--- becoming university professors, and continuing to spread the essence of Chinese culture.




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