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African students learn Chinese culture

By Xinhua | China Daily | Updated: 2013-07-22 01:29

Clenching fists, flying kicks, snapping punches — Shaolin kung fu made a big impression on the children in Mabre N'guessan Valerie's village in Cote d'Ivoire when he was young.

"The Shaolin Temple is very famous in my country. I fell in love with Shaolin kung fu when I was 10 years old when I first watched The 36th Chamber of Shaolin," said Valerie, 23, referring to the classic 1978 kung fu movie starring Gordon Liu.

However, the dreams of the children in his hometown mostly faltered in poverty. With neither education nor training, many young people struggled to survive.

"I'm a lucky dog," said Valerie, who entered the Shaolin Temple as a Shaolin charity education program student in February 2012.

Wang Yumin, dean of the Shaolin Temple's Foreign Affairs Office, said that nine students from African countries, including Gabon, Cameroon, Uganda and Cote d'Ivoire, have been admitted with free room and board for a five-year course in Shaolin culture.

Valerie struggled to adapt to Shaolin life at first. "We were not used to the food here, and the language is difficult," he said with a slight French accent.

But 18 months later, he gets along well with his Chinese peers and speaks decent Chinese.

An ordinary day is simple but meaningful, said his compatriot, Yahou Hugues Michael, 29.

They rise at 5:30 am, half an hour before kung fu practice, and by 7 am, they are having breakfast. At 8:30 am, the second morning session starts.

Chinese classes are compulsory from 10:30 am until midday.

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