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Kyrgyz Confucius Institutes -- cultural envoys between Kyrgyzstan, China

by Chen Yao

BISHKEK, Oct. 17 (Xinhua) -- "The farthest distance in the world is not between life and death, but is when I am talking to you for a long time, you could not understand a single word," joked Kyrgyz businessman Azamart in Chinese in a recent interview with Xinhua.

His fluency in Chinese and familiarity with Chinese jokes did not surprise Xinhua reporter, as nowadays more and more people in Kyrghyzstan are learning Chinese, becoming acquainted with Chinese cultures, and even changing their lives as a result.


When Gao Shuangying arrived alone at the Osh Industrial University as a Confucius volunteer teacher three years ago, she found the local people knew little about China.

Gao felt responsible and obliged to do something to introduce China to local residents.

She held a photo exhibition about China with her own financial resources before the National Day of China on Oct. 1. Gao chose 300 pictures reflecting Chinese food, folklore, architecture, scenery, etc. She decorated the exhibition area with her own hand-made Chinese knots.

The exhibition turned out to be perfect, receiving a large number of student and teacher visitors.

For the first time, they found there are so many beautiful places in China, and that the neighboring country has such a long history and interesting culture. They also became aware that rapid development of China has brought so many benefits to the world.

In Kyrgyzstan, almost all Confucius Institute teachers are busy after class. They work overtime, hoping that their students can learn Chinese better, know more about China and enjoy Chinese culture.

The teachers made their best efforts to write textbooks for the locals, visit classes offering other language courses like English, French and Japanese to do research and learn teaching experience, and go to students' homes to talk with students and their parents.

Also they would go to orphanages, nursing homes for the aged, and the disabled and children's institutions to enrich their teaching experience.


At Confucius Institutes in Kyrgyzstan, students have totally different learning experiences from common schools. Zhong Hongping, a teacher form Confucius Institute at Bishkek Humanities University, told Xinhua that the Confucius Institute is just like a big supermarket; things you want to learn are like products on the shelves, and you will never finish making a choice because new products keep emerging on the shelves.

In addition to Chinese language courses, the Confucius Institute students can learn Chinese martial arts, musical instruments, dance, calligraphy, painting, tea art, paper cutting, cooking, table tennis and other parts of Chinese culture.

Confucius Institutes in Kyrgyzstan also seek to introduce Chinese culture in their forms. They take interviews from local news media, offer performances at the Kyrgyz National History Museum and distribute Chinese magazines in colleges.

In Kyrgyzstan, you can find Confucius classes at many Kyrgyz universities, schools and Chinese enterprises.

Kyrgyz Education, Science and Culture Committee of Parliament has made positive comments on the Confucius Institutes in Kyrgyzstan, saying that thanks to the Confucius Institutes, Kyrgyzstan learns good teaching experience and methods.


Ainazik Kyzy Tolonbai is a student at Osmanov High School. When she entered the high school, she began to learn Chinese. Her family's difficult economic situation didn't stop her from Chinese study.

She told Xinhua that she had been dreaming of going to China. Last year, teachers from Bishkek Humanities University offered her a donation and helped her take part in a summer camp program at South China University of Technology in Guangzhou city of China.

When she came back from China, she told her parents the Chinese trip was like a key that opened a new door to her life. She determined to learn Chinese and believes Chinese will be able to improve her family's situation.

Atuoda, a staff member of the China Southern Airlines office in Bishkek, now works for the ticketing department. His good Chinese impresses every customer. The young guy learned Chinese at the Confucius Institute in Bishkek Humanities University. His Chinese proficiency helped him get the job.

Ma Lei, director of the Confucius Institute at Kyrgyz National University, said there are a lot of students graduated from Confucius Institutes in Kyrgyzstan like them. Confucius Institutes help them broaden their visions of the world, teach the students how to plan their own life and give them more choices after graduation.

During the Shanghai Cooperation Organization Summit in 2007, China and Kyrgyzstan signed an agreement about the establishment of Confucius Institutes in Kyrgyzstan. Confucius Institutes at Bishkek Humanities University and Kyrgyz National University were opened in succession in 2008 and2009. In 2013, the third institute at Osh National University was inaugurated. Now, there are more than 16,000 students learning Chinese in the three Confucius Institutes.

Teachers and students at the Confucius Institutes in Kyrgyzstan are just like cultural envoys between China and Kyrgyzstan. They are playing the role in introducing to each other Chinese and Kyrgyz cultures.

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