During the 2018 winter recess, twenty-seven students from the University of Johannesburg’s (UJ) Confucius Institute (UJCI) had the opportunity to explore the Chinese cultures and traditions in China’s two cities, Beijing and Nanjing. The main aim of the Asian summer camp was to add a new dimension to how young South African students perceive China.
The two-week expedition introduced the UJ students to a fully packed experience; learning various Chinese traditions and practices that are not usual to their countries of origin. In the first week in China, the students toured the city of Nanjing, where they visited the entrepreneurial innovation centres, the Old East Gate and Zhonghua Gate Castle built in 1368.
Some of their activities, guided by an expert of the city, included going to the Nanjing Tech Campus of the Nanjing Tech University. They tasted different teas, visited the Nanjing Yunjin Museum and the mausoleum of Dr Sun Yatsen, enjoyed tour to some shopping centres of the city.
In the second week, the student delegation went to the famous city of Beijing, where they visited the Tian An Men Square, the National Museum and the Beijing Zoo. They also went to the Juyongguan section of the Great Wall of China, the Lama Confucian Temple, the Beijing Science Museum, the Temple of Heaven and the 789 Art Centre.
Dr David Monyae, Co-Director of the UJ Confucius Institute, said that, “Learning a new language and immersing yourself in a different culture is a good move which will give the students good dividends in the long-run. We live in a diverse country and a diverse world; and language is a bridge for mutual understanding and a path-opener for cooperation. Mandarin is a great language to learn because of the fascinating history of China, as well as its increasing strategic importance.”
Thato Sekgoele, a third-year Management Services student at UJ, said, “The Chinese have a deep understanding of their culture, heritage and traditions because they know where they come from. They conserved their history over centuries and that is a vital element to the rejuvenation of their nation. Cultural intelligence is a necessity for people’s identities”.
The Confucius Institute is committed to providing UJ students with a rich experience of the Chinese culture, language and teachings to expose and equip them with the knowledge to interacting with internationals.