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More int'l students come to China to learn Chinese

By Zhang Jiaqi and Sun Tao
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, August 21, 2017
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When a traditional Chinese medicine class was offered at a school in Pilar de Borbon's neighborhood in Mendoza, Argentina, more than 10 years ago, her mother, out of curiosity, enrolled and began to learn Chinese, taking the then-17-year-old de Borbon with her. Since then, de Borbon kept on learning Chinese, and it eventually landed her a Chinese government-backed scholarship to study in China.

Pilar de Borbon from Argentina is studying Chinese Linguistics as a postgraduate in Beijing Language and Culture University. [Photo provided to]

De Borbon is one of an increasing number of foreigners coming to China to study. According to the Ministry of Education, a total of 440,000 international students came to China in 2016, increasing 35 percent from 2012. Roughly one third of them came here to learn the Chinese language.

"Learning Chinese can be hard for me sometimes, but I like to face up to the difficulties and enjoy the sense of fulfillment," de Borbon said.

In 2008, de Borbon participated in the Chinese Bridge, a Chinese proficiency competition for international students sponsored by the Confucius Institute Headquarters (Hanban), and placed runner-up in Argentina. The prize included a Confucius Institute scholarship issued by Hanban. According to Hanban, from its first session in 2002 to the 15th last year, the annual competition had welcomed over 2,500 university students from over 110 countries around the world to China for intermediary contests and finals.

"Without the scholarship, I would not have thought about studying in China, a country so far away from Argentina in my mind," de Borbon said in fluent Chinese.

Studying Chinese for more than 10 years now, she also learned much about Chinese customs and etiquette. "You cannot give an alarm clock as a birthday gift," she said.

"Now I can say I am a bilingual, and my study of Chinese will be of great help to my career in the future." The 29-year-old said she wanted to engage in jobs related to bilateral relations between China and Argentina. "I hope to do my bit for our bilateral communication with what I have learnt," she said.

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