A boy from Le Lycee National School shows his paper-cut artwork during a Chinese New Year celebration at the Chinese embassy in Lebanon on Feb. 19, 2019. (Xinhua/Bilal Jawich)
A Lebanese young man keeps busy with his volunteering work at the Lebanese Red Cross to fight against COVID-19 as well as his Chinese language course at the Confucius Institute at the University Saint Joseph (USJ) in Beirut.
by Dana Halawi
BEIRUT, May 30 (Xinhua) -- Jean Pierre Khoury, a 29-year-old Lebanese man, starts his day at 6 a.m. every morning, juggling between his volunteering work at the Lebanese Red Cross and his Chinese language course at the Confucius Institute at the University Saint Joseph (USJ) in Beirut.
Khoury, who works as a project coordinator at the International Organization of Migration (IOM), spends almost all his evenings at the Lebanese Red Cross (LRC) transferring COVID-19 patients to hospitals in addition to fulfilling other required tasks for LRC.
But his Chinese language course comes as a priority on his to do list.
Jean Pierre Khoury is having an online Chinese course with his teacher in Beirut, Lebanon amid COVID-19 pandemic. (Provided by Jean Pierre Khoury)
"I would never think of skipping any class because I am aware of the importance of Chinese and the good opportunities it may offer in the future," Khoury told Xinhua.
Khoury says he wanted to learn Chinese since China plays a great role on all levels in the world, especially in the manufacturing and trade area.
"A lot of products we are consuming today is made in China," he said.
He also described how impressed he is with the efforts that China has achieved with fighting against COVID-19 by building hospitals in a record time.
"This reflects China's great capabilities," he said.
The young man, who has been studying Chinese for three semesters, has been following up on his classes online since the outbreak of COVID-19 in the country.
"I insisted to continue my course after the virus outbreak despite the hard work I am doing at IOM and LRC. Also, I do not like to skip any classes because I would lose track of the new lessons given by our teacher," Khoury said.
Khoury dedicates two hours a week for his class and more time for homework and practice.
"I even downloaded applications on my mobiles to help me practice while I am at work," he said.
Xu Yang, a teacher at the University Saint Joseph (USJ) in Beirut, is teaching Chinese course with her Lebanese students online. (Provided by Xu Yang)
Xu Yang, Khoury's teacher at USJ, told Xinhua that all of her 40 students showed keenness to pursue their Chinese language course online amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Xu said that many of the Lebanese taking Chinese courses have business with China one way or another, while a big number work for Chinese companies.
A boy from Le Lycee National School shows his artwork "fu", which means happiness, during a Chinese New Year celebration at the Chinese embassy in Lebanon on Feb. 19, 2019. (Xinhua/Bilal Jawich)
Xu noted that online classes have been effective and she received good feedback from her students on the improvements they have been achieving with distance learning.
Khoury, her student, has improved a lot because he is saving the time spent on the road on his way to class by practicing and doing his homework.
"Jean Pierre has improved a lot, he knows more about Chinese characters," she said.
The increasing trade ties between Lebanon and China and the greater awareness by the Lebanese about the important role of China around the world encouraged more Lebanese to be involved in the Chinese culture and traditions through learning the language.
The Lebanese University is the only educational establishment in Lebanon to offer a bachelor degree in Chinese language.
Other universities, such as Saint Joseph University and the Holy Spirit University of Kaslik, offer selective courses to their students. ■