UCSC Confucius Institute interns recount their successful year
by Maria Strumendo
MILAN - For interns Jiang Tianqi and Zhu Yuan, UCSC Confucius Institute in Milan became a second home, but the time has come to pack up the precious memories and take them back home to China after one-year of new cultural experiences and friendships.
Also known by their chosen names of 'Olivia' and 'Giulietta,' the students have primarily dedicated their time teaching Chinese Language and Culture at UCSC Confucius Institute to beginners and intermediate learners of all ages.
| Jiang Tianqi (Olivia) and Zhu Yuan (Giulietta)
The mission of the UCSC Confucius Institute is to spread the knowledge of Chinese language and culture and one way that Hanban, Chinese National Office for Teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language, supports the local staff and classrooms is to send students trained in teaching language and culture on annual internships. Olivia and Giulietta were fortunate to be chosen for the Hanban internship program in Milan, being successful students of UCSC's partner university in Beijing, Beijing Language and Culture University (BLCU). They have now spent one academic year teaching Chinese to speakers of other languages.
When they were not teaching, Olivia and Giulietta were organizing and hosting Chinese Corner events, whereby guests practice and learn about the history and cultural significance of calligraphy, papercutting, and Chinese knots. Other important activities included tea ceremonies, the Chinese New Year Ceremony, and helping in the organization of the Charming Beijing exhibition and the BLCU World Confucius Institute Forum last October.
Olivia, 23, from Beijing, China who is studying a Master of Teaching Chinese to other language speakers at BLCU, still remembers that feeling she had upon her arrival.
"When I arrived at Malpensa airport I instantly fell in love with a large advertisement from the brand Fratelli Rossetti – a high fashion luxury Italian shoes brand," Olivia said.
"The advertisement was so elegant. I knew I was in Milan," she said.
Giulietta, 25, from Taizhou, China was apprehensive before the new adventure, but she explains that upon her arrival in Milan, a city which she immediately found "clean" and "fashionable" her fear disappeared and she was ready for new experiences.
Giulietta is finishing up her second year of her Master's program in European language and literature (a comparative linguistics program focusing on Chinese and Italian) at BLCU and has six years of Italian language learning under her belt.
"I undertook Italian language and culture during my undergraduate degree at Nanjing Normal University (NNU) so I felt very confident with speaking Italian when I came to Milan. My skills have definitely improved over the past year," Giulietta said.
Giulietta's dedication and passion lead her to continue her Italian studies at Università Cattolica undertaking two UCSC regular courses: General Linguistics, and Chinese contemporary history.
"After I finish my studies I hope to teach Italian to Chinese students at university level in China," she said.
Giulietta says she was impressed with the way Italian students study.
"I think Italian students work very hard and they take so many notes during their lessons. During the exam period, student textbooks are filled with sticky notes and underlined sentences," she said.
| Olivia and Giulietta by the "big tree" at
UCSC, Milan campus
Olivia upon arrival knew basic Italian, but with her charismatic nature, it wasn't too difficult for her to pick up the language and adapt to the Italian life style.
"The way people entertain and enjoy life in Italy is very different in China and I quickly became accustomed to the Italian way of doing things," Olivia said.
"I love caffé espresso."
"I enjoy eating breakfast with my Italian friends at Bar Bacco, near UCSC. The brioches are so fresh and the huge variety of flavours are mouthwatering. Add an espresso, and it's the perfect breakfast," she said.
Olivia was also impressed with a longstanding university tradition at UCSC, Milan campus.
"The first day I visited the campus, I was attracted to the big tree in the first courtyard but the thing that struck me the most were the students celebrating their graduation. I saw a girl take off her shoes and run on the lawn inside the courtyard. I was amazed and thought to myself...wow this is graduation..."
Olivia and Giulietta return to China at the beginning of August and although they are excited to return to traditional Chinese food and Chinese cinema, they say they will miss their adopted life in Milan.
"The staff at UCSC Confucius Institute became our family. I will miss seeing them every day," Giulietta said.
"I will miss the satisfaction of hearing my Italian students speak Chinese. This was one of my greatest achievements in Milan," Olivia said.