Off to China
“Go to China with an open mind.”
This was the advice Minister of Education and Human Resource Development, Ronald Jones, gave to students and military officers who were awarded scholarships and training opportunities to further their education and skills in that Asian country.
The recipients of the scholarships offered by the Government of the People’s Republic of China are: 28-year-old, Nickola Browne, who will be pursuing a Masters in International Relations; and an aspiring veterinarian, 18-year-old Kimberly Springer.
The Barbados Defence Force officers who have also been granted training opportunities to pursue military studies are Captain Wesley Beckles and Second Lieutenant Shane Drakes. They will both be pursuing the Platoon Commander Battle Course, while Lieutenant Coast Guard, Mark Peterson, will be studying Naval Command.
In congratulating the awardees, Jones urged them to use the experience to become better human beings.
He was speaking at a dinner hosted by the Chinese Ambassador to Barbados, Xu Hong, in honour of the awardees at the Chinese Embassy, Golf View Terrace, Rockley, Christ Church, yesterday evening.
Jones said: “These scholarships are bringing different cultures together in so many ways… The open mind is always able to accept and assimilate so many aspects of different cultures… In other words, become familiar with the space in which you will be educated, in which you will eat, sleep and study.”
Noting that students may experience a culture shock in China, a country with a long tradition and history, he pointed out: “Even within an English language environment, you too may go through a culture shock. But there is nobody who has moved from one space to another that does not have to go through some adjustment.”
The education minister also expressed gratitude to the Government of China for providing the scholarships to Barbadian youth.
“The people of Barbados are extremely pleased that China continues to reach its hands out to provide levels of assistance, particularly to our young people; so that they could become … better able to cope with the vicissitudes of growing up and of life … and [providing] an enriched source that they could contribute to humanity in a more purposeful and dynamic manner,” he said.
The Chinese ambassador observed that in the 35th year of diplomatic relations with Barbados, cooperation and friendship continued to grow, particularly in education, culture and military training.
The envoy praised the students for choosing to further their education in China.
“I know you had many choices, you could have chosen to go to the United Kingdom, [or] to Canada, but you chose China. Thank you very much,” he said. “I think you have made the right choice.”
Suggesting that the students may experience difficulties in the beginning because of the language barrier, Xu encouraged the scholarship and training recipients “to acquire great knowledge from the Chinese universities, to access Chinese culture, [and] make friends with Chinese youth.
“You may encounter more difficulties than in the English-speaking countries because the food of China is very different, but adapt to your new environment,” he advised.
He added: “Take the chance to explore China because it is a very big country and there are different levels of development, culture, traditions, folklore and landscapes.”
Stating that China still had large gaps between urban and rural communities, the ambassador urged the students to understand the real China and in turn to provide good advice which could help strengthen friendship and mutual understanding between the two countries.