Learning Chinese lights Nigerian teenager’s engineer dream

Thursday, January 2nd, 2020 00:33 |
Samuel Miracle, 16-year-old young man whose adopted Chinese name is Gu Siyuan is seen studying at a library in the Confucius Institute at the Nnamdi Azikwe University in Anambra State, southeastern Nigeria, Dec. 16, 2019. (Xinhua/Zhen Jianle)

Samuel Miracle made a big stride towards his dream of becoming an electrical engineer after he appeared one of the winners at a recent Chinese language competition in China. 

At the finals of the 12th Chinese Bridge Proficiency Competition for Foreign Secondary Students held between late October and early November in Zhengzhou, China, the 16-year-old young man, whose adopted Chinese name is Gu Siyuan, won the continent champion for Africa, and got a chance to pursue his study in one of the universities in China under a four-year scholarship. 

Before learning the Chinese language, he had always nurtured the dream of studying engineering, particularly to help solve the socio-economic challenges in Nigeria in sectors like electricity. 

"I still have that aspiration," he said in a recent interview with Xinhua in Abuja, adding that after his plan on studying electric engineering, he would come back to Nigeria to apply what he will be taught in China. 

The huge infrastructure deficit in electricity leads to frequent blackouts and residents in some rural areas have yet access to electricity at all. 

"This huge opportunity to achieve my dreams in life is one of the limitless opportunities that learning Mandarin can bring to me," he said. 

Gu Siyuan came to know the Chinese language as he was a little boy. 

"When I was younger, I was very inquisitive about the language and I was attracted to it. I liked the way they wrote their characters. 

"When in school, my friends and I would just write 'some nonsense' in our books pretending that they were Chinese characters. We knew it didn't make sense, but we just enjoyed it that way," he said. 

He was introduced to the Confucius Institute at the Nnamdi Azikwe University in Nigeria's southeast region in October 2018, an opportunity of learning the "real sense" of Chinese language. 

Soon after Gu Siyuan started learning, he showed distinctiveness in listening and understanding the rules of the game and showed an unbelievable vocabulary. It took him only 10 months to get to the HSK 4 level, a level usually requiring one or two years of studying for non-native speakers of Chinese. 

"Smart, disciplined and energetic learner," said Zheng Jianle, Gu Siyuan's Chinese teacher in the Confucius Institute at the Nnamdi Azikwe University, lavish in praise for his young trainee. 

Zheng was impressed by a question Gu Siyuan asked as he was enrolled and had studied Chinese for barely one month. "He asked me why in Chinese there are different words for 'give birth to', is there any difference. I was shocked, you know, he just studied Chinese for one month," said Zheng. 

After winning the language contest, Gu Siyuan will be given a four-year scholarship to study at any university of his choice in China. 

"I never expected to achieve the kind of result that I did," he told Xinhua. "I can not say exactly how good I am yet, but I think I try my best.  (Xinhua) 

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