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Confucius Institutes help Italians get closer to China

(Xinhua) Updated: 2014-09-28 07:48

MILAN, Italy - An increasing number of Italians see the learning of Chinese language as a privileged window to know China, students of the Confucius Institute at the University of Milan, which held an event to celebrate the Confucius Institute Day, told Xinhua on Saturday.

Michele Martin works in a telecommunication company which has some activities in China. "Sometimes I had to communicate with Chinese colleagues so I decided to learn a bit of Mandarin to increase my professional level," he said.

More than two years have passed since Martin joined the Confucius Institute at the University of Milan, which was opened in 2009. "The biggest and not expected satisfaction now is being able to chat with them in Chinese," he told Xinhua.

The Confucius Institute has also opened concrete opportunities for Luca Baroli, who is preparing for his degree in linguistic and cultural mediation while doing an internship at the Confucius Institute at the University of Milan.

Baroli was among the organizers of Saturday's shows related to the Chinese culture, which included paper-cutting, calligraphy skills, lion dance, Taijiquan and Beijing Opera.

"Taking part in the organization activities has helped me approach China's real world and build solid ties with Chinese friends," he told Xinhua.

Valentina Garello, a receptionist in an eye clinic, started to study Chinese at the Confucius Institute at the University of Milan even though she has never happened to welcome Chinese clients so far. "But you never know," she told Xinhua.

"I only could speak English, and wanted to study another important language. I though Chinese was the best choice to make me more attractive in the labor market," Garello highlighted.

Alessandra Lavagnino, codirector of the Confucius Institute at the University of Milan, confirmed "increasing curiosity" about Mandarin in her country. "Our students truly want to deepen their knowledge of China through the fundamental instrument of its language," she explained to Xinhua.

Mandarin has become extremely attractive for everyone, including youngsters, kids and workers, but also many retired people who have joined the 11 Confucius Institutes across Italy, Lavagnino said.

The Confucius Institutes, named after ancient Chinese philosopher Confucius, were established in 2004 as a tool to help foreigners better understand China through language teaching and culture introduction in universities overseas.

To date, China has opened 465 Confucius Institutes in 123 countries and regions, as well as 713 Confucius Classrooms operating in middle and primary schools.

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