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Amigos Across Cultures

Source: Science and Technology Daily | 2024-06-07 16:10:26 | Author:  LONG Yun and BI Weizi

Mr. Raydis Franco. (COURTESY PHOTO)

By LONG Yun and BI Weizi

Tianjin is known as the hometown of northern traditional Chinese opera, and the cradle of crosstalk, a comic and witty dialogue generally between two performers. Hence there is a saying that "Every Tianjin resident is a master of crosstalk."

At Tianjin's Nankai University (NKU), a foreign teacher is dedicated to promoting this distinctive traditional art form through performances in Spanish, fostering cultural exchange between China and other countries.

Raydis Franco, a Venezuelan teacher in the Spanish Department of the university's School of Foreign Studies, became fascinated with China and its language thanks to his high school classmate, a Venezuela-born Chinese speaker.

Hearing the melody of his friend's conversations with his family sparked a curiosity in Franco. Although he couldn't understand the language, its beauty and rhythm captivated him, igniting a strong interest in learning Chinese and eventually inspiring his journey to China for further studies.

Many years later, Franco realized that there are many hard-to-learn dialects in China. He has also realized that his friend speaks Cantonese and not the Mandarin that he has learned. He still cannot speak Cantonese well but his efforts to learn Chinese have deepened their friendship.

Franco emphasizes the differences between Spanish and Chinese: "The rise and fall of tones in Mandarin is captivating." Moreover, he finds ancient Chinese poetry beautiful and is amazed at how the poets could express such deep feelings and complex situations in just a few words. His favorite poet is 8th century Tang Dynasty poet Li Bai. To Franco, the poet stands out not only for his skill with words but also for his positive attitude towards life. Whenever Franco faces tough times, reading Li Bai's poetry gives him strength and comfort, guiding him through life's challenges.

Franco is particularly drawn to Li Bai's poems about friendship and the sense of belonging. They remind him of his own experience of being far from home and missing his loved ones. "Li Bai's poems often explore friendships," he said, adding that he finds the poet adept at capturing the essence of relationships.

Through Franco, his family and friends have gained new insights into China. Franco shares Chinese culture with his family through videos, teaching them basic phrases like "hello" in Chinese and showing them images of Tianjin's efficient transportation system.

Understanding the Chinese culture means exploring the customs and traditions at its core. Franco introduces his family and friends to them particularly during festivals like the Spring Festival, when he organizes parties for both his Chinese and foreign friends to celebrate together.

"We are like family here in Tianjin, celebrating festivals together and creating lasting memories," he said. Through these interactions, he, his family and his friends have gained a deeper understanding and appreciation of Chinese culture, fostering stronger bonds and connections with China.

Like many foreigners, he finds China's development remarkable. "Perhaps the Chinese people have grown accustomed to it, with advanced electronic payment systems and high-speed rail networks. But for me, all of this is simply fantastic," he said.

This article is also contributed by NKU.

Editor: 毕炜梓

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