It's a special day for Victor Fortoul Leon, 19, who has just driven six hours to take the Chinese Proficiency Test, or HSK, Saturday at a Confucius Institute in the capital of Yucatan State.
Qu Songming, a Chinese language teacher at the Confucius Institute of the Autonomous University of Yucatan, where the test was held, hosted the Mexican student.
"I am really happy to take the HSK," said Victor, who has studied Chinese on his own for three years. "My test score will be important for both studying and working in China."
He has planned to go to China for work after graduation.
"Although it took me six hours on my way to Merida, it's much easier than going to China to take the test," Victor said.
The Confucius Institute of the Autonomous University of Yucatan, the only test center in northeast Mexico, has held the HSK for three times since the first test in January 2010. Some 45 candidates took the test Saturday at three different levels.
Many Chinese universities require the HSK test scores for international students, who may also receive scholarship if they get perfect scores at the test.
Romina Damaris Mata Mendoza, who has taken the HSK for three times, said "It's very lucky for me to take the HSK ... I have applied for the Chinese government scholarship for studying in China next year, so my HSK score is very important."
Qu, one of the supervisors at the test, said more and more Mexicans are now taking the HSK. Only 15 people took the first HSK test here in January 2010.
"I've been teaching Chinese here for one year. I feel the HSK test is more and more popular here. Not only the number of test takers is increasing, but also the level of the test they take," he said. "To our surprise, we now have our first test taker from another state," he said, referring to Victor.
A total of nine HSK test centers in six countries have been set up in Latin America, of which Mexico has 3.
When the first HSK test was held in China in 1990, there were only 4 HSK test centers with less than 2,000 test takers, none of them from overseas. By 2010, 203 HSK test centers have been set up in 69 countries, with nearly 750 thousand test takers, including nearly 670 thousand from overseas.
(Xinhua News Agency June 28, 2011)