CAIRO, June 15 (Xinhua) — Egypt and China celebrated on Tuesday evening the launch of a Chinese language club in the Egyptian capital Cairo, while awarding the winners of the local Chinese Bridge Proficiency Competition for non-Chinese students.
The ceremony was attended by a number of Chinese diplomats, businessmen and professors, as well as some Egyptian lawmakers and representatives from the Cairo University and the Egyptian Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research.
“The Chinese language has become a basic foreign language taught in Egyptian universities,” Mohamed Ayman Ashour, Egyptian deputy minister of higher education and scientific research for university affairs, told Xinhua at the ceremony.
The Egyptian official added that the newly launched club “will serve as a link connecting the two peoples and the two languages, the Arabic and the Chinese.”
Initiated in 2002, the Chinese Bridge international language contest aims at boosting the youth’s understanding of and communication with the Chinese language and culture. It has attracted students from over 150 countries.
“It is a bridge, yet not only a language bridge but a bridge for friendship between the peoples of the two great countries,” said Chinese Ambassador to Egypt Liao Liqiang in a video speech to the event.
“Egypt has started teaching the Chinese since the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Egypt 65 years ago,” the Chinese ambassador said, adding that more than 50 universities in China are teaching the Arabic now.
The new club is not only linguistic, but it will regularly carry out relevant Chinese language competitions and entertainment activities, offer courses on Chinese culture and traditions, and organize lectures on Chinese corporate culture, according to Xu Yanhe, the club’s executive chairwoman.
During the ceremony, more than 20 Egyptian students, who won the local Chinese Bridge contest, sang Chinese songs on the stage after they were awarded certificates of proficiency and Chinese souvenirs.
“Participation in this competition was a dream of mine since my first year in university. It took me a year to prepare for this contest,” said Omar Abdel-Salam, a senior student of the Chinese Language Department, the Faculty of Arts of Cairo University.
Abdel-Salam, who won first place in the local competition that started in May, is among the three distinguished winners who will represent Egypt in the Chinese Bridge international language contest.
Besides art performances in Chinese, the young man presented an article written in Chinese introducing himself, his experience in learning the Chinese language, and the Egyptian-Chinese relations.
“Then I concluded the article with my dream, which is to be a messenger of the Egyptian-Chinese friendship,” he told Xinhua.
Another distinguished winner was Nashwa Abdel-Hakim who took the first place at the level of Egyptian school students.
“I am happier with what I have learned than with the reward itself,” the 18-year-old girl said, adding that she once visited China several years ago and started to love the Chinese language and culture.
“I loved the Chinese language so much. I feel it is close to my character and thought. I feel the Chinese language is part of me, not just a language I am learning,” she told Xinhua.