Ugandan school dropout describes Chinese as language of opportunities

2021-01-11 12:04:27

Tusiime Dumba, 33, dropped out of school in secondary school level two after he failed to raise tuition fees. He turned to the streets in the now Masaka City, in central Uganda, where he did all sorts of odd jobs in order to survive. One of the jobs he did was to ferry passengers on a motorcycle, commonly known as boda boda here. He transported all kinds of people and among them included Chinese. Every time he transported a Chinese client, it reminded him of his childhood Chinese Kung-Fu movies. He dreamt of speaking the Chinese language one day. "I always wanted to get an opportunity where I would connect with Chinese people and get an opportunity to work with them and learn their language," Dumba told Xinhua in a recent interview. One of his Chinese clients connected him to a Chinese-owned firm in the capital Kampala where he got a job as a driver. However, the language barrier continued to be a problem for Dumba. After some time, Dumba decided to enroll at the Confucius Institute of Makerere University to learn the Chinese language. As a school dropout, Dumba was not sure how the students at the institute would welcome him. "I was not sure whether the students would freely interact with me. But I was welcomed and loved by the students and teachers when I reported there," he said. After several months of attending class, Dumba started perfecting his proficiency in the Chinese language. He sat for the Chinese Proficiency Test HSK3 and HSKK examinations and later scooped a one-year Chinese language study scholarship at Xiangtan University courtesy of the Confucius Institute. While at Xiangtan, Dumba fell in love with Chinese culture and values. He participated in several extracurricular activities like preparing Chinese dishes, songs, and marathon races. He describes the time at Xiangtan University as an unforgettable experience. Winter was one of the hard times at Xiangtan, according to Dumba. His Chinese friends however helped him to adapt to the winter season which made life much easier. Dumba intends to pursue more courses in order to attain further qualifications in Chinese language. "I want to help many young people to learn the Chinese language because I realize there are many opportunities in my country. With the establishment of Chinese factories and tourism centers, there will be opportunities for translators and workers who can freely interact and speak in Chinese," Dumba said. Several opportunities like teaching Chinese language in secondary schools and universities are all waiting, according to Dumba. Xia Zhuoqiong, director of the Confucius Institute at Makerere University, describes Dumba as one of the students who have a simple education background, but managed to work hard and prosper in Chinese language. "He was a good student and team leader, communicated very well with all his teachers and classmates in Chinese language," Xia said. Many Ugandans are now embracing the practice of learning the Chinese language as they position themselves for opportunities that may come with learning an extra foreign language. The country's ministry of education has included Chinese language learning in the lower secondary school curriculum. Some secondary schools in the country are already teaching their students the Chinese language. China is one of Uganda's major trading partners and experts say that Ugandans should position themselves to reap benefits from these relations.