Russian and Belorussian, the official languages of Belarus, have long been considered enough work for the Belorussians, whose numbers count for more than 80% of the country. However, the young generation are planning to master at least one foreign language, particularly Chinese.
During Chinese president’s visit to Belarus earlier this year, China signed a deal with Belarus; it would continue to offer scholarships for the excellent Belarussian overseas students, in an effort to expand Chinese teaching scale. That was the best news in May for Griego, who works in Sino-Belarus Industrial Park in Minsk.
Griego focuses on the technical language instead of the common expressions like “nǐ hǎo” and “xiè xiè”. He points out that many Chinese companies in the industrial park are outstanding in their fields. Only if Belarus understands the thoughts of Chinese companies and the most advanced tech vocabulary can help those companies develop in the country.
To learn Chinese technical vocabulary, Griego attaches several small sticky notes with Chinese and Byelorussian on some product models that attract clients, and practices again and again. Griego believes the world’s first Technology Confucius Institute in Belarussian National Technical University, which was unveiled in Minsk last October, will solve his problems in how to better learn Chinese.
Vicotria, another student from the university, thinks German was popular among Byelorussian universities in the recent years, and lots of people used to believe that mastering English means easier chance of landing a decent job. However, many young generations think learning Chinese might give them an edge in job hunting.
Ten years ago, there was a sinology research center established in Belarussian national universities. Minsk State Linguistic University had offered Chinese courses and Chinese classes, with its teaching schools set up all over the country. Nowadays, students gather regularly and share their experiences of Chinese learning with new school members. They can understand Chinese movies well and can give their comments on Chinese art of tea, and they can even perform live Chinese tongue twisters, which are an impressive feat to witness.
For those Bielorussians originally from outside the capital, they tend to find Chinese students to help them with their Chinese learning. Serhiy, a young teacher in Mogilev University in Belarus, said that he and a Chinese language partner learn from each other. He believes that China will be the next stop on his life’s journey.