By Mohamad Zreik
It has become common practice to link China to trade and economy, but this is not the whole truth about China. When you get to know Chinese society closely, many of its characteristics are apparent. China has a long history; its civilization is one of the oldest civilizations in human history. This long history has resulted in a special Chinese identity that includes ancient customs and traditions. Chinese values, some of which are derived from Chinese philosophies such as Confucianism. For example, great value is paid to the family and respect for the elderly. The Chinese people attach great importance to time. There is a specific time for eating and a specific time for sleep. This shows that the lives of the Chinese people are organized and not absurd.
China is not a normal country because it has ties to families, dynasties and peoples who ruled over it. Each of these groups has added something distinctive to Chinese history and culture, and trade exchanges between China and other nations have led to China opening up to the world and gaining more cultural advantages. Chinese culture is divided into many elements, such as the arts, which include drawing, pottery, and poetry, writing traditional songs and playing traditional instruments. China has become associated with traditional martial arts such as Kung Fu. When you visit China you will see traditional and beautiful Chinese costumes at parties and events, Chinese fashion has a link to the history of China and every costume has a different story. Traditional houses and the ancient Chinese architectural style still exist in China, which indicates that the Chinese are adhering to their culture and not abandoning it.
My Chinese experience has made me more familiar with Chinese civilization, and the greatest credit is for my presence in China. Reading books and watching documentaries can help you identify a particular country, but it is not enough if you are personally not present in the target community and if you do not interact with its people, and learn about its cultural elements closely.
Central China Normal University helps students learn more about Chinese culture and integrate them into Chinese society by giving them Chinese Culture classes that help foreign students learn about the elements of Chinese culture and make the student adapt more to the Chinese community until he/she feels that he/she has become part of this society and is not different from it. I consider my participation in the Chinese Culture class a good and distinctive experience. This experience made me acquainted with some elements of Chinese Culture and created a desire to learn more about this ancient civilization.
The study is not limited to paper and pen, but is much deeper, so it is not useful to be a student at a foreign university without having an idea about the culture of the host country. China focuses on the cultural factor in dealing with foreign students, such as the dissemination of Chinese language and making the student adapt to Chinese society and learn more about Chinese culture. Despite all the technological and scientific progress, China remains a humble country and the Chinese people still respect other peoples and treat everyone with love.
The class of Chinese Culture includes students from the five continents and everyone is eager to learn more about Chinese civilization. For example, I am from Lebanon and my friend from Colombia and my other friend from Pakistan, we have gathered at one table to make the Chinese knot or Zhōngguójié that symbolizes Chinese culture. Once upon a time we watched a documentary about Chinese culture. The teacher showed the elements that represent the Chinese culture in the documentary. This is the Chinese spirit that brings people from different countries and cultures together to peaceful communication and cultural exchanges. Thanks to our university administration and everyone who contributes to the dissemination of Chinese culture, thanks also to the Chinese government, which allows universities to spread this beautiful culture.
* Mohamad Zreik is a PhD candidate at the School of Politics and International Studies (SPIS), Central China Normal University, Wuhan, Hubei, China. His research focuses on the One Belt One Road initiative and the Chinese presence in the Middle East, especially in Lebanon.