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African welcome in fluent Chinese!

A YOUNG African man welcomes visitors in fluent Chinese every Monday and Thursday at the Central Stage of the Africa Joint Pavilion.

Being a host at the pavilion is a great part-time job for 22-year-old Obame Eyeng Romuald from Cameroon, gaining him both confidence in the Chinese language and much-needed income.

He is delighted to be working at such a popular Expo attraction - the Africa Joint Pavilion received its 10 millionth visitor on Monday - and thrilled that African culture had proved so popular.

The pavilion is quite different from many others in the site, Romuald said. It exhibits mainly culture and costumes of different African countries rather than modern technology and economic development common in other pavilions.

"I hope that more visitors can come to witness the unique African culture and hospitable African people," he said.

On stage, Romuald is an enthusiastic host - "Does anybody know where Congo is?" "Who knows which country does this national costume belong to?" "If you like the show, please give your warmest applauds to the performers" - all in fluent Chinese.

Performances including African song and dance, and featuring national costumes, take place at the pavilion's Central Stage from 11am to 7:30pm every day.

The host's main job is to keep audiences interested during the interval between performances and to help them know more about African culture.

Warm heart

Romuald worked at the pavilion for two weeks in May as a volunteer student from China East Normal University, where he has been studying Chinese since 2006. His fluent Chinese and warm heart impressed pavilion officials and won him the part-time job as a host for stage performances about six weeks ago.

Though Romuald can speak good Chinese, he was not sure whether he could host a performance in Chinese successfully in the first few days. But the kind response he got from the audiences encouraged him a lot.

"The audiences always give an enthusiastic response to my greeting in Chinese," said Romuald, "and they never accuse me of making mistakes in speaking."

Hosting a performance every half an hour throughout the day is not easy, and Romuald is strict with himself - spending every spare minute backstage preparing for his next appearance.

"I feel exhausted when I reach the dormitory at about 10pm after work," said Romuald, "but every minute on stage is thrilling for me."

A major benefit of working at the Africa Joint Pavilion is being able to talk to people from his hometown. It is like being home for the African who has been away from his country for four years.

"I almost forget some habits and ways of talking in Cameroon," he said. "Chatting with African friends kind of reminds me of many traditions there."

Romuald will graduate from university this summer. The Expo job will help him prolong his visa until the end of October, but he doesn't want to leave. He is considering finding a job in Shanghai to support his further studies.


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