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Kenyans head over heels after trip to China

By XIE SONGXIN and OTIATO OPALI in Nairobi, Kenya | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2023-11-28 08:36

A young student trains on a trampoline at the Sarakasi Dome arena. Mathias Kavita offers instruction to children every Saturday. XIE SONGXIN/CHINA DAILY

However, with no previous experience in acrobatics, it was not all smooth going for Kavita and his colleagues.

He said the Chinese term "mama laile", which loosely translates as "mama is coming", was one of the first Mandarin expressions he learned. This was because during their early days in China, the Kenyans endured physical pain in order to become as flexible as young Chinese performers at the school.

Despite being strict and demanding a high level of discipline, Kavita said their acrobatics coaches in China were extremely understanding.

Every time his colleagues complained about the demanding rigors of acrobatics or of being homesick, the Chinese teachers told them fondly "mama laile" as a way of letting them know they would eventually be reunited with their families.

"Our teachers in Guangzhou were not only tough, but also determined to push us beyond our limits. Over time, most of the moves that previously seemed impossible came naturally to us. The school was dedicated to our success, and this can be seen from the fact that we were assigned 16 acrobatics teachers during our two years of training in China," Kavita said.

He particularly remembers one of his teachers who was tough on him during class, but afterward invited him to his home to meet his children, greatly helping Kavita adjust to life overseas.

Due to their Chinese coaches' dedication and skills, the Kenyans mastered their acrobatics training within two years, and were ready to put on professional performances.

But Kavita and his fellow students continued to attend school in China to learn mathematics, English, geography, literature, art and Chinese. His favorite publication was a Chinese booklet titled Say it in Chinese, which he carried with him wherever he went.

His most memorable event during his time in China was a graduation performance at the Guangzhou Friendship Theatre, which was attended by ambassadors, officials, and foreign and local students in Guangzhou. Kavita also treasures his graduation certificate, which he keeps in a leather case in his office.

"I really appreciate the fact that despite being trained in China, our instructors impressed upon us the need to include an African element in our performances, and always encouraged us to come up with African routines incorporated with the Chinese skills we learned," he said.

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