Angolan students (back rows) at the graduation ceremony at Jimei University on June 26
Edivaldo Júlio Da Vita Joaquim comes from a small town of Lubango in Angola. He had never imagined that one day he would go to China to attend the university. But in 2014, with 31 other students from his country, he won a scholarship funded by the Chinese company Hyway Group to go to Jimei University in Xiamen, in southeast China's Fujian Province. It's been five years now, and Joaquim's studies have completed.
"These five years in Xiamen have left us with a lot of good memories. In addition to language and our major - economics and international trade, we have learned a lot about Chinese culture, such as traditional Chinese painting, calligraphy and kungfu," Joaquim said in his speech during the graduation ceremony in June.
What particularly pleased him is that thanks to the efficient methods of their Chinese teacher, the whole class has passed the Chinese Proficiency Test. "Chinese is one of the most difficult languages in the world, but our teacher teaches it in a simple and easy-to-learn way, thanks to his rich experience," he said.
"We hope that these Angolan students will be able to learn more about traditional Chinese culture, while witnessing China's development. By bringing knowledge back to their own country, they would contribute to the friendship between our two countries," Hu Jiaming, President of Hyway Group, told ChinAfrica. "In fact, this international class marks the beginning of cooperation between private companies and universities in China to develop an international talent pool."
Since entering Angola in 2007, Hyway Group has been actively integrating into the local society by trying to assume its share of social responsibility, which has been greatly appreciated by the Angolan Government and the community, according to Hu. At the same time, in order to further promote educational and cultural exchanges between China and Africa, and to deepen communication and understanding between the young peoples of both countries, the group responded to the Chinese Government's call to support education development in Africa. With the help of the Chinese Embassy in Angola and relevant ministries in the country, 32 young Angolans were sponsored to study at Jimei University, a famous century-old university in China.
For the project, Jimei University developed a training program for international students by adopting the "1 + 4" academic system, namely one year of study in Chinese language and four years in economics and international trade. As mentioned by Joaquim, the university also offered traditional culture classes and organized activities for international students on occasions such as the Dragon Boat Festival and Mid-Autumn Festival. It also arranged learning tours, such as visiting wholesale markets in Yiwu, east China's Zhejiang Province, and the headquarters of e-commerce giant Alibaba in Hangzhou, capital of Zhejiang.
"Our two parties (Hyway Group and Jimei University) worked together and developed the training programs for the needs of these students under the Belt and Road Initiative. More specifically, the international business courses for these 32 Angolan students meet the needs of Angola's social, economic, scientific and technological development," Hu said.
During his visit to Africa in 2014, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang stressed that China would like to expand and enrich its cooperation with Angola on the basis of existing achievements, so as to inject fresh impetus into the development of bilateral ties. Given Angola's talent shortage and its weak educational base, the talent training plan was launched in 2014.
João Salvador Dos Santos Neto, Angola's Ambassador to China, welcomed the fact that the international class is contributing to talent training. "I hope that these 32 Angolan graduates can fully utilize the knowledge, experience and spirit gained in China when they return to Angola. They will build and develop our nation and become patriotic, dedicated, enthusiastic and patient," he said.
Students attend a course in international trade case study
On June 26, following the graduation ceremony of the first edition of the international class, Shen Canhuang, Secretary of the Committee of Jimei University of the Communist Party of China, said that his university would continue to strengthen cooperation with Angola in research and development, promoting the transformation of scientific and technological achievements through strengthening innovation and improving Angolan students' entrepreneurial capacities.
On the same day, Carmen Dos Santos, President of the Angolan Institute of Science and Technology of Fisheries and the Sea, visited Jimei University. Both sides said they should strengthen exchanges and cooperation in the fields of fisheries and marine science, in order to seize the development opportunities offered by the Belt and Road Initiative.
In addition, in April, Jimei University and the Hyway Group have signed a Strategic Cooperation Agreement for International Talent Training under the Belt and Road Initiative. The group will fund the creation of a scholarship for students in the countries along the Belt and Road routes to train local talents in Asia, Africa, Europe, America and the Middle East. "Due to the current lack of talents needed to build the Belt and Road projects, this model will actively explore university-business cooperation by jointly launching training programs," Hu said.
Among these 32 Angolan graduates, the Angolan Branch of Hyway Group will select the best. Some will be recommended to enter government departments or companies in Angola, while others will be involved in cross-border trade. In addition, some of them want to stay at Jimei University to pursue a master's degree and deepen their experience of China's economic and cultural construction.
"The training program is currently in its phase of selecting new students, and the second international class will start in September this year," added Hu.
Joaquim has returned to Angola. He is convinced that his country has many opportunities for development and has decided to engage in industrial investment and Sino-African trade. "I want to become a good economist in order to realize the great hopes that my university and Hyway Group have put on us to contribute to the development of Angola," he told ChinAfrica.
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