Youssouf Warsama Youssouf, a 17-year-old second-year student at the Djibouti State High School, recalled the moment he started developing an interest in studying Mandarin in a recent interview with Xinhua.
“I remember years ago, a Chinese tourist couple asked me something in Chinese, but I could not help them, so I pointed to a policeman standing on the street. Somehow, he understood their question and helped them, and I felt really bad I could not help them,” Youssouf said.
Since that moment, the buoyant Youssouf has been informally developing his Chinese language abilities through the internet and other ways. Courtesy of his devotion to the Chinese language, Youssouf is now one of the first batch of Djiboutian youth who are enrolled in Chinese language courses co-conducted by the Confucius Institute in Djibouti and Djibouti State High.
“Djibouti is in a good relationship with China, and I hope there will be a lot more tourists in the future. Now that I have improved my Chinese, I could probably lend them a hand if they ask me to and that works both ways,” Youssouf said, revealing his wish of visiting China in the nearest possible future.
The Confucius Institute in Djibouti was officially inaugurated in March with the stakeholders pledging to make the institute a better platform for China-Djibouti cooperation.
As the first Confucious Institute in the country, the institute has already made great progress during its initial operations over the past seven months.
The institute, in cooperation with local high schools, has now more than 600 students, 18 classes and seven teaching points. Its students mainly come from high schools in the country’s capital.
The institute’s success in attracting Djiboutian youth reflects the blooming cultural and people-to-people ties between the two countries.
Nasri Mohamed Hassan, a second-year student at Gabode Technical High School, is also studying the Chinese language.
Hassan, 16, believes developing a better command of the Chinese language will enable him and fellow Djiboutian youth to study in China and broaden their future career opportunities.
“The relationship between Djibouti and China is already playing a very important role for students,” Hassan said. “I want to study in China and come back with more knowledge to help develop our country.”
Chinese instructors have also won the hearts and minds of local youth for their efforts to improve the future prospects of local youth and serve as the connecting bridge between the two cultures.
“I always thought that the Chinese language was the most difficult language, but I discovered that I was wrong. It’s a beautiful language and it is easy,” said Nasiro Yacine Mohamed, a second-year student at Hodan High School, attributing her mind change to her instructors’ teaching method, which has made it easier for students to quickly learn the language.
“What makes it interesting is that our teachers are super nice to the students and the whole class loves the teachers. We have such a good time whenever we are in the Chinese course,” Mohamed said, highlighting the crucial role the institute is playing and serving as a bridge connecting the two peoples.
“Lately, we can see that China and Djibouti are strengthening relations and I believe it is beneficial to develop interaction between peoples of the two countries,” Mohamed said.
The sentiment has been shared by Moustapha Mohamed Mahamoud, minister of national education and vocational training of Djibouti.
Mahamoud underscored that learning and mastering the Chinese language will open a wider window of opportunities for Djiboutian youth and enable them to acquire further education and training opportunities.
“Students from different schools are now learning the Chinese language here at home in Djibouti through this institute. I am sure this opportunity will allow them to apply to big Chinese universities,” the minister told Xinhua. “Certainly, we will have students who will come out of the best Chinese universities and return here to participate in our development endeavors.”