May 5, 2015 By John Sesay
Gannan Normal University (GNNU), one of two provincial normal universities in Jiangxi Province, China, on 4th April received a delegation of six Sierra Leoneans, including the information attaché at the Sierra Leone Embassy in Beijing, John Baimba Sesay and five students (John Hinga Magay, Emmanuel Frederick Swaray, Ade Lamin Conteh-Haris, Lamrana Alieu Jalloh and Hinga Margai) reading Chinese language at Master’s level, with support from the Confucius Institute.
The visit, which ended yesterday 7th April, was aimed at enabling the team know more about the university and for the students to share their experiences since their arrival in China in September 2014 for their studies. GNNU, over a year ago, jointly worked with the University of Sierra Leone in establishing the Confucius Institute at Fourah Bay College, which today is contributing to cultural and educational exchanges between Sierra Leone and China.
In his statement during a session with the delegation on 5th April, Deputy Vice Chancellor of Gannan Normal University, Professor Xiaoyun Qiu, paid tribute to the governments of Sierra Leone and China for their tremendous support towards the establishment of the Confucius Institute in Sierra Leone, saying, “Our success in Sierra Leone is as a result of the support of the governments of the two countries and the University of Sierra Leone and Gannan Normal University.”
Professor Qiu committed his university’s readiness to always work with the University of Sierra Leone for more opportunities and especially towards the success of the Confucius Institute in the country. He encouraged the students to work hard, whilst expressing optimism that they will greatly and positively contribute to their country’s development. “You are the bridge in deepening the relationship between the two universities and the two countries,” he said to the students.
The Deputy Vice Chancellor conveyed his university’s congratulatory message to Ambassador Victor Bockarie Foh on his recent appointment as Sierra Leone’s Vice President, referencing a visit he (Ambassador Foh) paid to the university few months prior to his appointment as Vice President.
In his statement, Professor Hande Liu, Program Director for Confucius Institute and Head of the School of Foreign Languages at the University, said he was happy because of the successes scored in deepening the ties of friendship between Sierra Leone and the People’s Republic of China through the Confucius Institute.
John Baimba Sesay, Information Attaché at the Sierra Leone Embassy in China, thanked GNNU for their support to Sierra Leone’s human resource development, through opportunities giving to students. He acknowledged the efforts of GNNU in establishing the Confucius Institute at Fourah Bay College, which he said “is lifting the bars of development cooperation between the two countries through cultural and educational exchanges”.
Sierra Leone, according to envoy Sesay, was looking forward to more growth opportunities from China, whilst underscoring that the Asian giant’s current support to Sierra Leone’s human resource capacity development will go a long way in directing the country’s development trajectory in all sectors in the coming years.
Speaking further, Sesay said given the growth of China today in world affairs, “learning the Chinese language is of great significance for students from the world over, but more so from a developing nation like Sierra Leone. We particularly look forward to an increase in the number of offers given to our students, and also to more exchange programs between the two countries”.
On plans for the establishment of a regional office in Sierra Leone for the Confucius Institute, Sesay said the country was extremely delighted that Fourah Bay College had taken that decision and was going in that direction.
He assured of Sierra Leone’s continued support to the Confucius Institute: “Our former Ambassador, H.E. Victor Bockarie Foh, who is now Sierra Leone’s Vice President, had received incredible support for the Confucius Institute and has always committed his willingness to support in whatever way, for its growth and continuity in our country.”
Also attending the event were Professor Xuebin Chen, Vice Dean of the School of International Education; Mr. Xiaojian Mei, Program Coordinator for International Cooperation and Exchange Division; and Ms. Qiyuan Liu, Interpreter at the School of International Education, amongst others.
The establishment of the Confucius Institute in a number of African countries is in line with the follow-up measures of the Forum of China-Africa Cooperation’s (FOCAC) Fifth Ministerial Conference, geared towards promoting cultural exchanges and cooperation between the People’s Republic of China and all African countries.