Myanmar boy’s Chinese journey

TIANJIN: On a white mask, Chit Ko Ko symmetrically brushed the eyes and cheeks with blue paint, and the forehead and chin with green, and finally dotted a red decorative pattern around the mask’s eyes. The 25-year-old student from Myanmar was learning to paint a Peking Opera mask, while adding some of his own personal touches, in northern China’s Tianjin Municipality. “Blue represents the Bay of Bengal nearby my hometown and red refers to friendly China, and green stands for environmental protection,” Chit said in fluent Mandarin as he put the mask on. For Chit, studying in China has been a journey that has taken root since childhood. “When I was eight or nine years old, I loved to watch the Chinese TV series “Journey to the West” with Myanmar subtitles. The Monkey King with his great magic powers left a deep impression on me,” Chit said, adding that he was quite interested in the pronunciation of Chinese. Later, Chit became keen on watching Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan’s Kung Fu movies, which made him more curious about Myanmar’s neighbor China. Chit’s parents sell seafood in his hometown and his three elder brothers help with the family business. They envisioned the same path for Chit, but he charted his own course. “No one had expected me to study in China, but I just want to experience this country myself,” he said. In 2015, Chit was admitted to Tianjin University. “I showed my family the offer and they were all excited and proud of me,” he said. In his first year in China, Chit devoted himself to learning Chinese by taking classes, communicating with local students, watching Chinese TV dramas and singing Chinese songs. Soon, his Chinese improved a lot. Besides, Chit also attended many Chinese cultural classes, such as papercutting, Chinese painting, and Peking Opera mask designing. “The culture is very diverse, and it’s great fun creating beautiful things during these classes,” he said. A year later, Chit decided to choose civil engineering as his major after learning of the China-Myanmar oil and gas pipeline project in Myanmar, in the hope to participate in the project one day. Taking professional courses in Chinese was hard, but teachers have been patient and classmates very friendly. “My classmates and I often study in the library together, and it feels like we’re a big family,” Chit said. During his stay in China, Chit has visited Beijing, Xi’an and Hunan, appreciated the charm of different local folk cultures and shared the experience with his family and friends. “More of my friends want to come to China now, and some even asked me how to apply to study in the country,” Chit said. In 2018, a total of 492,200 international students from 196 countries and regions came to study in China. Among them, the number of students studying engineering, management, science, art and agronomy has increased significantly, up over 20 percent year on year, according to China’s Ministry of Education. Li Qiang, dean of the School of International Education at Tianjin University, said the university has received nearly 240 students from Myanmar in the past five years. “As the year 2020 witnesses the 70th anniversary of China-Myanmar diplomatic relations, our school will promote more bilateral exchange projects for students from both sides,” Li said. For Chit, he hopes to continue his Chinese journey, pursuing a postgraduate degree. “I hope that I can serve as a bridge between the two countries in the future,” he said. – The Daily Mail-People’s Daily News exchange item