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UWI-WJC to offer Mandarin language programme

Published:Saturday | October 25, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Luz Longsworth

MONTEGO BAY:

The University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona, Western Jamaica Campus (WJC) has launched a Mandarin programme in association with The Confucius Institute at the UWI Mona campus in Kingston.

The move was made in a bid to bridge the language barrier in order to capitalise on the deepening China-Jamaica relations, which has resulted in an expansion of prospects for trade, commerce, and tourism.

Mandarin is the official language of the Chinese.

Campus Director Dr Luz Longsworth said the programme launch coincided with the 160th anniversary of the Chinese arriving in Jamaica. She said the campus was seeking to develop a strong language-teaching programme that is open not only to enrolled students, but to the wider community.

Tourism benefits

President of the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry Nathan Robb also endorsed the programme. He cited tourism as an area in which Jamaicans being able to speak Mandarin fluently would be an asset.

Keynote speaker Chinese ambassador to Jamaica Dong Xiaojun said knowledge of Mandarin would be an advantage in the Jamaican tourism sector, and with Jamaica waiving visa requirements for Chinese tourists visiting up to 30 days as of last April, he expected the market to grow.

"Over the past five years, since its establishment, the Confucius Institute at the University of the West Indies has expanded to an impressive level, now with over 200 students," he said. "The relationship between two countries depends on the affection between two peoples, and such affection comes from a good understanding of each other."

He also underscored that overcoming the language barrier would create better understanding between each other, and this is what the Mandarin programme aimed to achieve.

"I hope that the Mandarin programme at the Western Jamaica Campus will become a good platform for the students to learn Chinese language and to understand Chinese culture, which will help them interact with Chinese tourists and businessmen to become envoys for friendship and, ultimately, to be great contributors to Jamaica's Vision 2030 and to the friendly partnership for common development of our two countries," the ambassador said.

Through the Confucius Institute, a teacher has been assigned to the WJC. Two will also be assigned to the Jamaica Maritime Institute and one to the Jamaica Constabulary Staff College. As of March this year, there were 440 Confucius Institutes and 646 Mandarin programmes in 120 countries or regions. More than 100 million people are learning the language globally. China has become the number four trading partner for Jamaica, and in 2013, bilateral trade volume reached US$338 million.