BEIJING, June 11 (APP): Urdu may be a bit more challenging than other languages, but a growing number of Chinese students are choosing to learn it anticipating opportunities to be offered by Chinese companies carrying out development projects in Pakistan under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). The history of Urdu started with establishment of first Urdu Language Department at Peking University in 1951. Later, the universities in the Chinese cities of Xian and Guangzhou also set up Urdu departments. Beijing Foreign Studies University (BFSU) has been teaching Urdu since 2007 and till now two batches of its students have completed their degree, Head of Urdu Department, School of Asian and African Studies, Zhou Yuan said in an interview. Out of total rolled-out students, a few have got admissions on scholarships in foreign universities for higher education while some joined different companies. At present, the third batch of 20 students is studying Urdu, she added. The BFSU will send its students to National University of Modern Languages (NUML), Islamabad and Government College University, Lahore for six months during third year of their studies to get a better chance to improve their speaking and writing skills. In this regard, the university gets financial support from the government of Pakistan and Embassy of Pakistan in Beijing, Zhou Yuan, who has adopted a Pakistani name ‘Nasreen’ told APP here. She informed besides, teaching language to the students of Urdu department, the university organizes competitions of Urdu calligraphy, speech contest and cultural activities to aware the students about Pakistan and its people. “Such activities not only increases interest of Urdu learning but it enhances standard of Urdu language among Chinese students,” Yuan Yuhang (Shabnam), who is teaching Urdu at the University for the last one year after quitting her job from a bank.
Zhou Yuan said many Chinese students are learning Urdu at different universities and institutes around the country, including Beijing. The reasons for learning Urdu vary. Some have been romanced by Pakistan’s culture, food and landscape; other by the beauty of the language itself. Yet, others see learning Urdu as a practical means of eventually working with Chinese companies carrying out different projects under CPEC framework in Pakistan. To cope with the demand, several universities in Shanghai, Tianjian, Kunming, Urumqi and Inner Mongolia are considering setting up Urdu departments, Zhou Yuan said. Today, the Urdu department of her university has a batch of 20 Chinese students. They are attracted by the prospect of an affordable education and a job. Some of them hope to get a job with a Chinese company in Pakistan. Others will go on to further studies in foreign countries and chance of good jobs in Chinese universities, diplomatic service, banks, hotels and airlines etc, she added. A Chinese student having a Pakistan name ‘Rabia’ said she intends to become an Urdu teacher after completing her study. “I have a passion to learn Urdu and teach this language of our deep-rooted friendly country to my countrymen.” To a student Zhang Yi (Afia), Urdu is an interesting and beautiful language. She admitted although it is difficult to learn Urdu, but it is imperative as she wants to learn more about Pakistani culture. The Chinese students, Mehtab, Mehrin and Alizeh also spoke about their interest in Urdu and vowed to play important role in enhancing Sino-Pak friendship and economic cooperation. Other Chinese students, Moosa, Junaid and Amer said they are learning Urdu to further promote cultural and people to people contact. They said the number of students is increasing with the passage of time because of job opportunities for Chinese who can also speak good Urdu. Students can see the tides changing and expect that knowing Urdu would mean more job opportunities, in Pakistan and in China. This is reflected in many students’ responses when asked about their interest in learning the language. Another student said while he is interested in learning different languages, ‘choosing Urdu is aimed at starting my own import and export business”. The increased interest in learning Urdu means that more students from around China are interested to enlist in the University, hence, we are considering for launching a new batch to accommodate more students, Zhou Yuan concluded.