By Si Thu Tun
Yuan Tongyu, is only a first-year student at Beijing Foreign Studies University (BFSU), who speaks Myanmar fluently and accurately. Enthusiasm and passion can be obviously seen on her face while she is speaking.
BFSU or Beiwai (in Chinese) is one of the top language Universities in China and has produced over 90,000 expats in languages and foreign affairs over the past 70 years since establishing the school. Currently BFSU offers 83 languages and doctoral programs in foreign languages and literature, Chinese language and literature, journalism, communication, political science, law, management science and engineering, etc.
Like many other students, she also encountered some difficulties in learning Myanmar language at the very beginning. She sometimes feels a bit confused about some pronunciations because they might sound the same to her. But gradually she found that learning Myanmar language is very interesting. She is willing to be a Myanmar language teacher at the same school after graduation although she hasn’t made up her mind yet.
There are few similarities between Chinese and Myanmar language such as “tones”, Chinese has four tones and Myanmar language has three. According to linguists and historians, Myanmar language derived from Sino – Tibetan language family. Myanmar language has adopted a handful of Chinese words such as chopstick, tofu and playing cards as a consequence of Chinese immigration during colonial time.
China now focuses on promoting relationships between China and ASEAN countries including Myanmar. Most recently, China has hosted a China-ASEAN media cooperation forum. China is also promoting Belt & Road initiative program. It is very prospective to have many programs and cooperation between China and Myanmar.
Yuan Tongyu said that she chose to study Myanmar language because she heard that Myanmar is a country which is very potential and has a very beautiful culture. Besides, most of the students learning Myanmar language can get a good job. To her knowledge, she learned that Myanmar is the land of Buddhism, people are very honest and friendly and they are also crazy about singing and dancing.
She has some Myanmar friends at the University and sees some interesting Myanmar traditional clothes during special events at the University or Myanmar Embassy. she expressed her admiration of Myanmar traditional longyi (a sheet of cloth widely worn in Burma) which she finds very special. She added that she learned Myanmar culture and traditions from her teacher and she personally enjoyed Myanmar Water Festival which was held in Myanmar Embassy in Beijing during Myanmar New Year’s celebration last April. She also performed a Myanmar traditional dance with her classmates there.
In her third-year at the university, she will go and study at a University in Myanmar as an exchange student. According to her teacher, Ms Zhao Jin, China is now working on deepen the relations between China and Myanmar. That’s why she is trying to produce more students who are skillful and have a good command of Myanmar.