As over 20 Liberian students gear up to leave for studies in the People’s Republic of China, Liberian alumni who had studied in the Asian and world giant cautioned their compatriots to be law abiding and respect the culture of that country. Usually, when students are leaving for studies in China, beneficiaries, relatives, government officials and other stakeholders are called together for a dinner to bid farewell to the departing students. This year’s pre-departure activities took a different trend, as Chinese scholarship alumni were invited to share their experiences about China with the new beneficiaries. Speaking for the students that have benefited from the Chinese scholarship program, Clifton Garpeh emphatically told the departing Liberian students to be steadfast and take their lessons seriously, because the Chinese are uncompromising in meeting up with their academic goals.
Garpeh, who was joined by other colleagues, including Mulbah Gbozee and Sydell P. Goll, maintained that students can easily and smoothly complete their academic activities depending on their seriousness. Acts of laziness on anyone’s part to put pleasure above studies may lead to a long stay, or rejection, he said. Speaking on security, Assistant Minister for Public Affairs at the Ministry of Defense, David K. Dahn, Sr., began by commending the Chinese Government for its invaluable services to the security sector of Liberia. Minister Dahn recalled that besides some of the short term training China has provided the Police, the Armed Forces of Liberia, the Drug Enforcement Agency and the Immigration, the Chinese Government has also provided US$5 million to the Defense Ministry to help augment its operations. Minister Dahn, who has also studied in China under the Liberia-China bilateral scholarship program and earned a master’s degree in Military Science, told the departing students to be adaptable to the new culture and respect the laws of that country. He warned that China attaches seriousness to security, and all those going to study there should avoid any acts that may have security implications. “China does not compromise security issue. If the Chinese Government for any act against its law says you are going to jail for 40 years, you will surely go and spend that time there regardless of who you are. Please be careful and respect the people’s law as you go,” Minister Dahn emphasized.
He added that China is one country with a strong cultural heritage and that anyone visiting the country for the first time may encounter cultural shock. Therefore, he noted, “Respect the people’s culture and adapt yourselves to the new environment.” He also dispelled the speculation that “Studying in China is a free ride to acquire a degree,” adding: “No! Don’t be misled by anyone that you can get free degrees from China. If you do not work satisfactorily to please the professors, you may end up coming back here without achieving your goal or ed up staying longer in China studying one thing.” Emmanuel Munyenneh, Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs, encouraged the departing students that they are the few privileged to access such a great opportunity. He said education is one factor that gives people self-esteem and the position to serve in the larger society. He told the departing beneficiaries to attach seriousness to their studies and return with flying colors.
The program was also attended by Deputy Minister of Education for Administration, Aagon Tingban, who recalled the progress the ministry has made and noted that over 1,000 ghost names have been deleted from government payroll, and teachers who deserve salaries are now receiving them. He commended the Chinese Government for its assistance to Liberia in the area of education and urged students departing for China to study hard, earn what they are going for and return to contribute to the building of the country.
Li Zhuang, Chargé d’Affaires of the Chinese Embassy, recalled that in 2017 alone, China provided 27 slots of Chinese Government scholarships, 16 slots of one-year master’s scholarships and about 200 training opportunities for Liberian students, professionals and military officials. Mr. Li also emphasized that young people play a critical role in any nation, noting that when youth prosper, the country also prospers. He encouraged the departing students to strive to overcome language barriers and cultural differences and to embrace the new environment with courage and open-mindedness.