Rwandan student Obed Niyimbabazi (1st L) tastes tender Juncao grass in Fuzhou, southeast China's Fujian Province, Aug 12, 2021. [Photo/Xinhua]
The number of African students learning Chinese and studying in China has been increasing thanks to growing economic and cultural exchanges between Africa and China in recent years.
According to the Ministry of Education, more than 81,000 African students were studying in China in 2018, accounting for 16.5 percent of the international students in the country. There were 49,792 African students in China in 2015 and 61,594 in 2016.
Dickson David Agbaji, a Nigerian PhD student at Peking University, said he applied to study in China because he was interested in understanding what was behind the political and economic transformation of the country, its culture, history and ideals.
Agbaji said his favorite aspect of learning in China was the community that surrounded him and the conducive learning environment and supportive academic staff who were always willing to listen and assist where necessary.
"I was on campus during the COVID-19 pandemic last year, and although it was a difficult time, the love and care from the university's Yenching Academy staff showed me that despite being far from home, far from my family, I had another family here," he said.
An important reason for Africans' growing interest in learning Chinese and coming to the country to study is the need to understand China's transformation and see what ideas they can transfer to the continent to facilitate its growth, Agbaji said.
Another reason is the growing number of Chinese investments in Africa, which has created vast opportunities for young Africans, he said. Understanding the Chinese language and culture makes them stand out and places them in good stead to take advantage of China-related opportunities in Africa, he added.
Nicolas Bamamou, a Guinean postgraduate student at Beijing Jiaotong University, said his secret in mastering the Chinese language has been practicing with the local people.
"One of my favorite things about studying in China is the opportunity of transplanting Chinese business models into my country and adapting them to the reality of my country," he said.
China has an enormous number of business ideas that can be implemented in Africa and the funding opportunities for young startups are huge, Bamamou said.
Malual Malual Garang Malong, from South Sudan, is an undergraduate civil engineering student at Beijing Jiaotong University.
He said choosing China as his academic destination was a great choice because China has developed significantly in every field, especially in infrastructure, which presented marvelous career opportunities.
Malong said his favorite things about studying in the county were learning about Chinese culture, communicating with Chinese people and trying some delicious food.
He said he will recommend to friends and relatives that they come to China, not only to study, but also because of the amazing experiences waiting for them, adding that it can also give them a lot of opportunities to find a good job.
Umutoniwase Liliane, a postgraduate student at Renmin University of China, is from Rwanda.
"My favorite thing in China is mostly the culture and how China is developing rapidly, so it makes things very convenient," she said.
China is becoming a powerful country, and that has made people around the world interested in coming to the country, she added.