Nearly 200 Liberians, including recruits and non-recruits for the sixth training cycle of the China-aided Ministry of Youth and Sports (MYS) run Bamboo & Rattan Weaving, Vegetable Planting (BRWVP) Program last week benefited from a five-day intensive basic conversational training course in the Chinese language.
The BRWVP Program was established in 2007 and has trained more than 600 Liberian youth and adults, many of whom are self-employed, producing quality furniture. Meanwhile, a bio-gas production system training component, based in Klay District, Bomi County, has recently been added to the program.
Speaking during the opening ceremony of the course on July 24, MYS Assistant Minister for Technical, Vocational Education, and Training (TVET) M. Boakai Jaleiba described the course as a germane initiative that would help enhance understanding especially among trainees of the BRWVP program and their Chinese trainers.
Saying he recently endured an embarrassing three-day delay at the Beijing International Airport due to his inability to understand or speak basic Chinese to an airline agent who wrongly arranged his route back to Monrovia, Mr. Jaleiba called on Liberians to take learning the Chinese language at any level seriously.
He added that applying such an effort could be beneficial in many situations, particularly in the wake of increasing collaboration between the peoples of China and Liberia in various sectors.
“Had I known a basic conversational Chinese, I would not have experienced the embarrassing situation some nine to 10 days ago in China,” Jaleiba pointed out, promising to take advantage of the course.
The ceremony was graced by a number of MYS officials and personalities from the Chinese Embassy in Monrovia. They included MYS Deputy Minister for Administration Dr. T. Nancy Freeman and Youth-on-the Job Training acting director Camillo Toh. From the Embassy were Mr. Zhang Xiudong, secretary in the office of the Economic and Commercial Counselor at the Chinese Embassy; Mr. Huang Baiqing, the headmaster and teacher at the Confucius Institute at the University of Liberia, who facilitated the class; Mr Nie Yougdou, director of the BRWVP Program; and Mr. Jay Zhu, also a facilitator of the course. Jay, the interpreter of the BRWVP program, also taught the class a famous song “TWO TIGERS” that they seemed to enjoy.
Welcoming the audience earlier, Camillo Toh, assistant director for the Ministry’s Youth-on-the-Job Training Program, under which the BRWVP operates, challenged the participants to commit themselves to the course.
“Avoid distractions and be very attentive during the duration of the class, because what you learn will be part of you as you interact with our Chinese counterparts, even after here,” Toh stressed.
Also speaking, Mr. Zhang Xiudong expressed his delight with the attendance during the ceremony, thanking MYS officials and the CIUL director for their support in organizing the course.
“Today, I’m very happy to be here and to see so many Liberian students from all over Liberia come here to learn the Chinese language,” said Mr. Zhang.
“It’s about the Chinese culture. Through the language, you can learn some things about the Chinese culture and history that can benefit you; for example, during civil contacts among Liberians and their Chinese counterparts.
“It is also about capacity building to help you easily acquire the technology of BRWVP which will help you feed yourselves.”
In his remarks, Mr. Chuang praised Director Nei for adding the course to his training program and lauded the ministry for embracing it. He noted that the Chinese way of teaching the BRWVP technology requires special knowledge which would be easier to acquire through learning the Chinese language.
For his part, Director Nei said the course is a way of laying a strong foundation for the BRWVP and the bio-gas training effort. He thanked MYS, Mr. Chuang, and experts from the Confucius Institute for their support towards the success of the class.
Sampled Beneficiaries’ Comments
Kiawu Fayeh, 21 (male): “The course is a good opportunity for me on three fronts: first, it will make my training in the BRWVP Program easy because it will help me understand the common way of talking with teachers.
“Second – I live in a neighborhood with a good number of Chinese whom I meet every day. Speaking to them even casually was a problem. But now with the course, my interactions with them is improving. It will be a good way of making our relationship better.
“Third, and most important, my father currently works in China and has promised to send me there soon. When that happens, the course will be the foundation for me to learn deeper Chinese and find life easy in China.”
Nana Galubah, 23 (female): “The class is likely to strengthen my relationship with a female Chinese friend in my community. Before attending the course, she and I could not go beyond saying ‘hi’ in our conversation and using signs in our interactions. But after the second day of the class, she sensed I was learning basic Chinese somewhere. According to her, she was impressed with the way I was now speaking to her and asking her fundamental questions in Chinese.
“More than that, I operate an entertainment center in the community that attracts a good number of Chinese. The course will help me in a way to understand my customers.”