You may have read the above title and thought it was such an odd concept. If you did, you’d be right. After all, how could somebody simply get a Chinese name? Why would someone wish to alter something so key to his or her identity? In some other places, it’s easy to adapt our names for international use, or from time to time we have names attributed to our religious beliefs. In China, to make it easier and more convenient for the internationals that can’t pronounce Chinese names, it’s reasonably common in the big cities for Chinese people to have English names. As it’s also difficult for some Chinese locals to really pronounce our names, some of us go all the way and adopt a Chinese name. In order to explain further, let me tell you the story of how I got my Chinese name.
For the purpose of this story, our new friend was called Shaun. He was a bank teller born and raised in Beijing and he was one of the friendliest people we had come to meet in the city. He happened to be heading in the same direction as us and never had the opportunity to speak with internationals before. He felt that it was a great chance to meet new people whilst learning different things about the world. We perceived him as an amiable fellow and he made us feel welcome in such a big foreign city. We spent a 30minute train ride discussing many things ranging from life in Beijing and Chinese culture to food and hobbies; it was an enjoyable conversation.
The next day, we were invited to his home to have dinner. Though we held some reservations at first, we agreed that it was an opportune moment to really learn more about the city, some of it’s people and Chinese food, so of course we went. He shared a 3-bedroom apartment with his friend. They had a kitchen but no living room. So Shaun, his friend, Dilya and I sat around a table in a room that had a balcony. We prepared the famous Beijing Roast Duck and a homemade hotpot with some lotus root, lettuce, cabbage, garlic, etc. It was a perfect meal and in some splendid company. Over dinner, Shaun asked us, “Do you guys have Chinese names?” To my surprise, Dilya already had one and gave hers as “李玟” (Li Wén); I however, had not. So Shaun left the room in order to grab some extras and as he left he said, “By the end of this evening, I will give you a very good Chinese name.”
Now almost 2 years on, I still use the name Liu Bang and I’ve used the name as an ice-breaking tool. I find Chinese people in awe at the thought of an international named after one of their most key emperors, whilst others have since simply been laughing and joking about it when I first introduce myself. They’re bemused that someone would not only know some of this history but that said person would go so far and even adopt a name from a man so revered. I’ll never forget Shaun because he contributed to my life here in a way that was so positive and constructive. I made new friends, had great conversations, I’ve found it easier to integrate into life in Beijing and have enjoyed my time more because my Chinese name is Liu Bang.
Written by Athiei Ajuong
Master of International Communications
Communication University of China
Over 6,000 Chinese locals, international students and expats attended the 9th Tsinghua International Students’ Cultural Festival that took place at Tsinghua University’s Zijing Sports field on Saturday May 12, 2018. Some members of the diplomatic corps that included South Sudan Ambassador Monday Semaya and the Ghanaian ambassador to the People’s Republic of China Ambassador Edward Boeteng were also in attendance. It was the first time South Sudanese students had been invited to participate in this cultural spectacle.
performed to Acholi, Zande and Emmanuel Kembe songs (Salam Ja) on the main stage.
The South Sudanese students’ Cultural team in Beijing seemed in high spirits, displaying their support for one another. South Sudanese students attending Tsinghua’s culture festival came from more than 10 different universities within Beijing including the Foreign Affairs University (FAU), the University of International Business and Economics (UIBE), Peking University, Renmin University, the Communication University of China (CUC), China Women’s University, and others. Over 60 countries were represented in the exhibition including Brazil, Romania, France, China and Pakistan. In recent weeks, South Sudanese students have gathered at UIBE, Tsinghua University, Beihang University and China Normal University for similar culture festivals.
The 9th International Students’ Culture Festival was run by the Tsinghua International Students and Scholar Centre (ISSC) and organised jointly by Global Village, Tsinghua University Students’ Association of Culture Exchange (AICE), and Tsinghua Shuo Students Society of World Culture and Language Communication.
South Sudan Presidential Advisor of Education Affairs Hon. Dr. John Gai Yoh visited Tsinghua University's School of Public Policy and Management (SPPM) on Wednesday May 23, 2018. Hon. Gai and his delegation were welcomed by the Dean of SSPM Prof. Xue Lan, Deputy Dean Prof. Zhu Xufeng, and the Deputy Director of International Cooperation and Exchange Ms. Qin Qin. Hon. Gai was accompanied by the South Sudan Embassy in China's Deputy Head of Missions Ambassador Monday Kumba, the First Secretary of the South Sudan Embassy in China Peter Cafenol Oryomo, and the Executive Director in the Office of the Presidential Adviser Stephen Wiw Bichiok. South Sudanese students from MOFCOM's Masters program in SPPM and neighbouring Peking University were also in attendance.
The meeting began with a warm word of welcome by the Dean of the School of Public Policy and Management (SPPM) Prof. Xue Lan who also gave a brief introduction of the department. Hon. Gai Yoh was appreciative of the welcoming words and in turn eloquently outlined the purpose of his visit. His mission was to exchange views and discuss possible avenues of cooperation in capacity building for South Sudan through the Education system. There were 4 main points discussed at the table during this think-tank and brainstorming session.
The first topic of discussion was how the School of Public Policy and Management (SPPM) could help reshape Juba University's School of Public Administration. There has been a need to incorporate a public policy discipline into the the School of Public Administration; yet it is no easy task. To succeed in creating the most up-to-date and relevant public policy course would take considerable cooperation with South Sudan's international academic friends and partners. Secondly, Hon. Gai Yoh requested the SPPM to help the top 5 South Sudanese graduates to further educate themselves by attending PhD programme in the SPPM. In response, the Dean Prof. Xue stated that as SPPM does not offer PhD programs in English this provides a considerable obstacle for South Sudanese students wishing to study in Tsinghua's SPPM. However, the professor agreed to facilitate admission to other universities.
Thirdly, Hon. Gai Yoh emphasised joint research cooperation between South Sudanese and Chinese scholars and students. It was proposed joint research collaborations could work with Juba University and other think-tanks such as Ebony, Sudd Institute and others. Similarly, it was proposed to establish an NGOs research centre in Juba University. As there is not enough information in South Sudan relating to the work of non-governmental entities, how exactly they operate and aid South Sudan on her path to development. Lastly, the issue of establishing a Confucius Institute in Juba University was raised by Hon. Gai as he expressed hope that both South Sudan and China would carry out deep-level cooperation in scientific research and training so as to improve in the capacity of South Sudanese scholars in the future.
The visit of Hon. Dr. John Gai Yoh and his delegation signalled a positive step in the way of South Sudan-China cooperation. As South Sudan and China continue to take proactive measures to improve relations and However, this was a second visit of high level South Sudanese Government official to Tsinghua University, the first being by HE Dr. James Wani Igga, the Vice President of South Sudan. Hon. Dr. John Gai Yoh visit visit took place on 23 April, 2018.
The above paradox might have been nourished by the Chinese non-interference policy in other nations’ affairs and especially African political setups which have been mostly influenced by outsiders. An interfering attitude from the West has made them more heard and renowned in comparison to their Chinese counterparts. This explains why many things are measured by Western standards in Africa, civility is often regarded as Western made. Misguidedly, for many to appear modern, they have to copy anything Western, even those considered unimaginable in their traditional setup.
In 2016 after winning a Chinese sponsored scholarship; the anxiety and reality of coming to face with this negative perception was giving me sleepless nights, “How will life be in an environment where you don’t know anyone to talk to or extend an assisting hand in case needs arise”? That was but one of many questions swirling in my mind. On the evening of 11th Sept. 2016 I landed at Beijing International Airport; to my surprise, at the exit after having finished security clearance, I saw a placard with my names being held by a young unassuming man sporting a white polo shirt and blue jeans. By his appearance, I considered that he may be a student... he was. I approached him and he politely asked me ‘are you Kur John Aleu’? ‘Yes I am’ was my answer. He led me to a taxi yard and we drove to the campus.
My first morning at Beijing Jiaotong University was a remarkable one; we were led to the international student office, given our settlement allowances and assigned some students to help us do some shopping in the nearby malls, the level of kindness, generosity and humility displayed that day and which I still experience during my daily encounters with other Chinese people changes the perception I once held towards them. In fact the actions of most Chinese people are centered and driven by the desire and beliefs of doing good deeds.
To summarize my findings, the most notable attitude the Chinese people share is their respect for the elderly and authority; upholding good deeds is so central in their cultures, this trait is informed by the blessings believed to be associated with living a righteous life; a similar sentiment to that which is also held by most African societies. While advancing technologically, Chinese people still hold to their traditions; this is so tremendous and I wish our African societies could learn from this, civilization and technological advancements are not supposed to replace traditions.
Written by: Kur John Aleu
Master Candidate of Transport Engineering
Beijing Jiaotong University.
It’s already been a year since the last scholarship window was open. Recently, the Chinese Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) study application window opened once more and as such SSCHIFA is calling all interested people to apply. If you are a student or a consummate professional aspiring to become a Master or PhD holder then this is especially for you. The South Sudan-China Friendship Association (SSCHIFA) offers assistance and guidance during the application process for all of our members but also provides further information on what's next.
The MOFCOM scholarship provides a win-win opportunity for developing nations and China. It strengthens cooperation and communication between nations whilst giving a chance for people like South Sudan's developing talents. Last August, SSCHIFA was proud to announce that 240 Master's and PhD MOFCOM scholarships were awarded to South Sudanese students for the 2017/18 academic calendar. A figure that eclipsed the 80 students that left for studies in September 2016.
There are few better opportunities to grow as professionals and individuals than China's MOFCOM Scholarship. Take the opportunity and join South Sudan's growing student body in China. Apply and explore China's impressive institutions, development, engaging culture, and more. At SSCHIFA we are doing our best to advise students that seek self-improvement and further knowledge in order to contribute to South Sudan's bright future. If you feel you have what it takes, join us and contact us now.
Our editorial team is made of writers who have studied and/or lived in China. They share China's story with South Sudan.
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