Li, German leader make surprise visit to students

Updated: 2014-07-08 07:25

By Zhang Yunbi (China Daily)

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About 100 students and teachers from China and Germany were amazed to find that both the start and the end of the China-Germany Year of Language program included Premier Li Keqiang and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

On May 26, 2013, Li and Merkel met local students in Berlin at the launch ceremony of the program, an initiative meant to encourage peoples from both nations to study each other's language.

"It is such a great scene," said Anna Langkau, a 15-year-old 10th-grader from Germany who was almost overwhelmed by nervousness when shaking hands with the premier and the chancellor on Monday afternoon at the Temple of Heaven in Beijing.

The girl, from Burggymnasium High School in Essen, has spent a year learning Mandarin. Premier Li Keqiang asked her how long she has studied the language.

Before the two prominent figures arrived at The Hall of Prayer for Good Harvest of the Temple, Langkau and her young colleagues signed their names and wrote down messages in both languages on a 10-meter-long white banner that carries the slogan of the yearlong program.

What she has wrote down in Mandarin - Zhong De hezuo - means "Sino-German cooperation".

"Because we have so much in common with the Chinese students," she explained.

Merkel and Li also signed the white banner, after which the two leaders moved on to an interesting discussion with the high school students on the evolution of languages.

"We also have new words (added into the Chinese glossary) from abroad," Li said, echoing Merkel's point. Li mentioned the equivalence of the word "computer" in Mandarin as an example.

Simon Trappe, 16, who has just finished 10th grade and has been learning Mandarin for a year, quickly came up with the Chinese pronunciation of "computer" mentioned by Li - diannao.

"It is quite impressive that those words are used in the Chinese language, probably (in similar ways) in German too, because they never existed before," said Trappe, who received praise from Li for his pronunciation in Mandarin.

Cai Xiaodong, head of The Experimental High School Attached to Beijing Normal University, said the language program has established a platform for the youngsters to get a greater understanding of the culture and basic conditions of the other country.

The two countries each sent about 50 students to attend the Monday gathering, and the visiting German students will visit the Beijing-based high school.

Zhang Yungang, 34, a Chinese immigrant to Germany and a Mandarin-language teacher at Trappe's high school, said the two governments designed the youth exchanges with foresight, and they deserve more support from all walks of life.

 Li, German leader make surprise visit to students

Premier Li Keqiang and German Chancellor Angela Merkel interact with teenagers from China and Germany at the closing ceremony of the China-Germany Year of Languages program at the Temple of Heaven Park in Beijing on Monday. The program was launched on May 26 last year. Xu Jingxing / China Daily

Li, German leader make surprise visit to students