By Wezi Tjaronda
Unam’s centre for Chinese Language Studies has started offering Chinese courses to equip Namibians with Chinese language skills.
The centre was established last year and launched by former Chinese Ambassador to Namibia, Liang Yinzhu, and Vice Chancellor Professor Lazarus Hangula to promote interdisciplinary research and understanding of Asian cultures, languages and values within Namibia and the Southern African Development Community.
Unam’s Public Relations Officer, Utaara Hoveka, on Friday said considering the increasing role China and its people are playing in Namibia and the global arena at large, Unam saw it fit to establish the centre.
“It can equip Namibians wishing to learn the Chinese language with these skills,” he said, adding that it could help people wanting to become philologists, translators, cultural experts, diplomats and businesspeople.
He said the university hopes that the establishment of the centre will not only ease communication between Namibian and Chinese nationals, but also create opportunities for Namibians wishing to travel to China.
The courses, being offered at three levels, will also come in handy for Namibia especially in its drive to attract Chinese tourists to the country.
Already, 28 Namibian tour operators have indicated interest to get involved in the Chinese market, according to Namibia Tourism Board Strategic Executive: Marketing and Research, Shareen Thude.
“Once we understand their culture, we will better respond to their requirements,” she said.
Although Chinese nationals will prefer doing tours with their own nationals for safety reasons, Thude said the Chinese language courses are a good start especially for people in restaurant and tour businesses.
Chinese tour operators and media visited Namibia last year and earlier this year to get an understanding of the products and services that the country offers and to see whether they meet the needs of their travellers.
Thude said Namibia is a destination for the upper end of the Chinese traveller and not for large groups because of limitations in accommodation facilities that cannot take in a lot of people at once.
The Chinese Language Council International has seconded Chinese language expert, Professor Hao Jie to the centre. He worked as Deputy Director of Language and Culture at the Centre for Diplomatic Staff.
Jie studied Chinese Language and Literature and Chinese Language and Culture at the Beijing Normal University and the Communication University of China.