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NZ Maori boy shares learning Chinese joy

China Daily Global | Updated: 2019-07-17 07:54

WELLINGTON - Dressed in a traditional Chinese robe, Jimah Ruland-Umata, a 17-year-old New Zealand Maori boy, shared his experience of learning Chinese at the Australia, New Zealand and Pacific Islands Confucius Institute Conference recently.

Speaking in fluent Chinese, Ruland-Umata says: "I was introduced to Chinese in my first year of intermediate school (Year 7). It was not easy at the beginning because my primary focus was on expanding my vocabulary, completely ignoring the biggest challenge we all face when it comes to learning Chinese tones.

"I had no idea that there were tones in Chinese and grasping the concept took quite a while."

Ruland-Umata is from the Rotorua Boys High School, in the central region of New Zealand's North Island.

He admits that speaking Chinese has opened up many opportunities both inside and outside of school. He currently works as a tour guide and translator at Tamaki Maori village.

"I made friends with countless Chinese people and those friendships have boosted my confidence to not only learn Mandarin but also the local Beijing and Sichuan dialects, and Cantonese," he says.

"I still have a long way to go in learning Chinese but I am grateful for every opportunity I receive.

"I speak Chinese every chance I get and it makes me feel happy that I can understand a completely different culture to that of my own," he adds.

Tony Browne, chairman of the Confucius Institute at Victoria University of Wellington as well as a former diplomat in China, says: "Knowledge of China's history, its culture, its language and its people underpins the political and economic relationships that all the countries of our region have with China.

"The Confucius Institutes, individually and collectively, are becoming ever more important in building that knowledge and providing educational opportunities for our students."

Blair McRae, deputy vice-chancellor of Victoria University of Wellington, says: "Hosting the Confucius Institute is an important part of our university's engagement with China. And beyond our university, our institute serves as an important vehicle for Chinese language learning and capacity-building through their management of the Mandarin Language Assistants' program, with over 50 MLAs placed across 140 schools in the lower half of the North Island."

Experts from China, Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands Confucius Institutes participated in the annual meeting.


(China Daily Global 07/17/2019 page16)

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