Over 100 seventh graders from Fructuoso Rodríguez school in the central Havana district of Plaza de la Revolución will start Chinese classes during the new academic year. “I am opening the doors to my future,” Samuel Zayas, a twelve-year-old secondary student, told Chinese news agency Xinhua. “China is a very important economic power in the international arena. Learning Chinese will be difficult in the very beginning, but I feel I have made a wise decision.”
Chinese ambassador to Cuba Ma Hui said the two countries had taken a significant step to develop their relations through culture and education. “Learning a foreign language is very important,” he said at the opening ceremony of the course. “I am fully convinced that knowing about Chinese culture and language will bring many opportunities for students in the future.”
Via its embassy in Havana, the Chinese government is supplying the school with textbooks, dictionaries, and handbooks, as well as traditional Chinese toys to be used as teaching aids.
School principal Carlos Camejo voiced his enthusiasm for the program, telling Xinhua, “China and Cuba have a solid brotherhood. I do not doubt that Chinese language classes will be very positive for the intellectual development of our students.” More schools across the country are expected join the initiative in the coming years.
Interest in studying Chinese has grown in the island nation as Cuba–China relations have continued to strengthen over the last few years.