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More seizing chance to learn about China

By Cecily Liu in Madrid, Spain | China Daily | Updated: 2018-11-29 09:12

One evening last week, dozens of Spanish students and locals gathered in Madrid's La Casa Encendida to see movies offering insights into the lives of Chinese people living in Spain.

The event was a highlight in the social calendar of the Confucius Institute in Madrid, which offers Chinese lessons to hundreds of Spanish students and helps them better understand Chinese culture.

Established through a collaboration between the Autonomous University of Madrid and Shanghai International Studies University in 2005, the Confucius Institute in Madrid is one of eight such facilities in Spain.

"It is a great pleasure to gain insights into China-Spain connections through such films, and the Confucius Institute in Madrid has brought China a lot closer to our lives here," said Rosana Serrano, a local woman who attended the screenings.

Serrano, who started learning Chinese several years ago, said she has greatly enjoyed her lessons and made many friends while studying.

Gladys Nieto, director of the institute in Spain's capital, said she has witnessed the growing popularity of learning Chinese in Spain in recent years, especially as the Sino-Spanish relationship has developed.

"Lots of our students want to travel to China to understand the country, or to engage with China-related opportunities in their careers," she said. "They see language learning as a crucial first step. Our students greatly appreciate the opportunities to understand China's rich and diverse culture through the various fun events we host."

The three films showcased the stories of Chinese expats in Spain. The first followed two young Chinese as they set up a business selling fish tanks in Spain, with a focus on their entrepreneurial spirit and hardworking attitude.

The second documented an elderly man, surnamed Chen, and his longing for home. Chen, who was born in Fujian province, migrated to Spain at a young age and over more than 40 years of hard work became wealthy.

The final story examines the lives of second-generation Chinese in Spain. Their Chinese roots and expectations from their parents are often in conflict with the Spanish culture they have grown up in, and each of them is on a journey in search for an identity they feel comfortable with.

Movie night is one of many cultural events hosted by the institute in Madrid throughout the year. It recently hosted an art exhibition showcasing Buddhist cave temples in Dunhuang, Gansu province.

Dunhuang was once an important stop on the ancient Silk Road, and the city's prosperity encouraged artists to create beautiful artwork.

Last year, the Madrid institute also hosted a children's book exhibition during which it showcased almost 200 stories that originated in China, including ancient and modern tales.

Launched by the Chinese government in 2004 to promote Chinese language and culture abroad, Confucius Institutes are nonprofit organizations affiliated with Western academic institutions, including secondary schools and universities. The Confucius Institute in Madrid was the first one established in Spain.

There are now more than 40,000 students in Spain studying Chinese, according to Chinese authorities.

China's ambassador to Spain, Lyu Fan, said cultural and educational exchanges between the two countries are very active.

"The enthusiasm of people from both sides to learn each other's language and understand each other's culture runs high," said Lyu.

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