BEIJING, China—Armenian-language courses are now being offered to Chinese university students in another example of the strengthening links between Armenia and China. The courses in Armenian language and culture will be offered for a second consecutive year at the prestigious Beijing Foreign Studies University (BFSU) after a very successful launch year, with many of the enrolled students expressing the desire to continue their Armenian studies in Armenia.
Teaching Armenian in China is now the responsibility of Mary Knyazyan, a BFSU Ph.D. student originally from Armenia who has been living in China for the past two years.
“BFSU is one of the most prestigious universities in China and Armenian is currently being taught to more than a dozen Chinese students as their third foreign language. The Armenian-language courses are completely optional, and the fact that it was the students’ own choice inspires me significantly,” said Knzyazyan.
Henri Arslanian, the president of the Armenian Community of China, affirmed the group’s commitment to support such intercultural educational initiatives.
“It is an honor and great pleasure to share with our Chinese friends our Armenian language, culture, and history,” he said. “We are touched to see that they enjoy learning Armenian and about Armenian culture as much as we enjoy learning Mandarin and about Chinese culture.”
“When I heard that I can study Armenian at our university, I was very happy and enrolled immediately. Now I have a chance to get more acquainted with the culture of this wonderful country and I am sure I will travel to Armenia in the nearest future,” said Huan Jianyu, a 21-year-old student originally from the Guanxi province.
The students have been very successful in their Armenian studies so far. “To my surprise, Armenian is not so difficult for Chinese students. They often find that Armenian letters look like Chinese characters and are able to pronounce the difficult Armenian pronunciations sounds like ձ [dz], ծ [tʼs], ց [ts] surprisingly smoothly,” said Knyazyan. In adddition to language courses, the students have also gotten acquainted with Armenian culture and history, and watch Armenian movies and listen to Armenian music.
Shi Xingyu, a 21-year-old student from Taiyuan, says that she chose Armenian because it is completely different from the other languages she had studied before, and believes to be uniquely positioned as very few Chinese people can speak Armenian. “My major is international trade and knowledge of the Armenian language can give me the opportunity to develop economic relations between Armenia and China,” she said.
The Armenian community of China and Hong Kong continues to strengthen Sino-Armenian friendship through public diplomacy.
To learn more about the Armenian Community in China, visit the community’s website at www.chinahay.com.