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Fostering cultural awareness and academic exchange

Updated: 2024-03-13 07:54 ( CHINA DAILY )
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From left to right: Du Wei, dean of the graduate school at Guizhou Minzu University, Guizhou. He Yingchun, vice principal of No 1 Middle School in Sunan Yugur autonomous county, Gansu. Yang Yuni, head of the Yuni Cultural Heritage Center in Honghe Hani and Yi autonomous prefecture, Yunnan. Dylan Walker, a China Daily reporter. Huang Huachun, vice principal of Chongzuo High School in Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region. Sui Guohua, vice-chair of Guangxi's regional government. Xu Guangwen, principal of Shenyang University of Chemical Technology, Liaoning. Gao Jinhui, principal of Peizheng Middle School in Macao. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Motions, suggestions, and proposals in the 2024 two sessions emphasize cultural preservation, educational exchange, and global cooperation to foster youth empowerment and nurture cultural understanding for international harmony.

The National People's Congress and the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, known as the annual two sessions, were held in Beijing from March 4 to 11 this year. They are convened to gather and deliberate on motions, suggestions, and proposals from deputies and members representing the people, and then convey them to relevant departments for review and action, ensuring that the voices of the people are heard.

"A well-rounded suggestion proposed by a deputy must stem from thorough research and truly reflect the needs of the public. It should also consider aspects that existing policies have yet to address," said Du Wei, an NPC deputy and dean of the graduate school at Guizhou Minzu University in Guiyang, Southwest China's Guizhou province, during her conversation with China Daily journalist Dylan Walker.

One of the suggestions put forward by Du this year focuses on the Village Basketball Association, or Cun BA, and the promotion of ethnic cultures. During these village basketball games, both on-site and online viewers can enjoy performances of singing and dancing by ethnic groups, in addition to participating in the sport itself.

The increasing popularity of Cun BA underscores the growing demand for spiritual and cultural enrichment in rural areas. This demand is also echoed by a suggestion made by Huang Huachun, an NPC deputy and vice principal of Chongzuo High School in South China's Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region.

"The improvement of education in border areas of Guangxi has always been the theme and focus of my research and suggestions. With the support of the country and local governments, we have made significant progress," said Huang. "From my research, I have found that students in these areas are eager to learn traditional local instruments. However, there is a significant issue with the teaching staff, as they lack the necessary skills for quality musical education."

Huang acknowledged that more and more young teachers have come to work in border areas, bringing vitality and positive impacts to students. "Cultural classes such as art and music stimulate students' creativity and imagination. Furthermore, they help students learn more about their own cultural identity, facilitating their integration into society in the future," Huang added.

Yang Yuni, a Gen Z member of the CPPCC and head of the Yuni Cultural Heritage Center in Honghe Hani and Yi autonomous prefecture, Southwest China's Yunnan province, also emphasized the importance of cultural education in her suggestion.

"The Hani Terraces are an intangible cultural heritage with a history of over 1,300 years. The songs and dances derived from this agricultural culture are unique and magnificent," Yang said. "I founded this center with the hope of preserving and promoting our traditional culture, strengthening Chinese national community consciousness among our children, sharing our culture, and connecting our younger generation with the rest of the world."

Yang's focus on promoting national community consciousness resonates with He Yingchun's proposal during the two sessions. Since children are the future builders of the country, it's crucial to strengthen their sense of national community consciousness from an early age, said He, a CPPCC member and vice principal of No 1 Middle School in Sunan Yugur autonomous county, Zhangye, Northwest China's Gansu province.

"We encourage our students to offer suggestions that reflect their unique perspectives as teenagers, taking into account local circumstances. They will also have opportunities to interview me, a member of the CPPCC," said He. "Through active participation, we aim for them to gain a deeper understanding of our consultative mechanism and the principles of people's democracy."

Gao Jinhui, a CPPCC member and principal of Peizheng Middle School in Macao, also highlighted the importance of experiential education.

"One of my proposals focuses on patriotic education and its integration into Macao's education system. In addition to classroom learning about the Chinese mainland, we would also organize field trips for students to experience firsthand. Without such experiences, how can patriotism be deeply rooted?" he said.

Gao also pointed out that there are various aspects that Macao and other cities in China can learn from each other, such as the efficient public transportation in the Chinese mainland and Macao's adaptation of STEM education.

According to Xu Guangwen, a CPPCC member and principal of Shenyang University of Chemical Technology in Shenyang, Northeast China's Liaoning province, mutual learning is also important on a global level. "Established in 1952, our university has a long history of international collaboration, welcoming international students since 1956, and establishing academic partnerships with universities in Japan and Russia," he said.

The primary focus of Sui Guohua, a CPPCC member and vice-chair of Guangxi's regional government, is also international exchange in education, more specifically, on China-ASEAN education cooperation and international talent cultivation.

According to her, by the end of 2022, the number of students studying in both directions between China and ASEAN had surpassed 280,000. Among all the international students studying in China, ASEAN students constituted 20 percent. "Nevertheless, we still face a shortage of high-quality international talents equipped with cultural confidence, global thinking, cross-cultural communication, and multilingual skills," she said.

Sui believes that in the face of unprecedented global changes, countries need to unite, cooperate, trust, and respect each other. Young people should become "civil ambassadors" and shoulder the mission of promoting mutual understanding and friendly exchanges between different countries and regions.

Du also expressed aspirations for the young people of China. "Youth is a crucial phase in everyone's life. I hope our youth are willing to explore and never lose faith in their goals and themselves."

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