In Peruvian capital, young taking to Chinese culture

Updated: 2015-05-25 06:55

By Lia Zhu(China Daily Latin America)

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In Peruvian capital, young taking to Chinese culture

College students Joel Vargas (left) and Lilian Villarreal work as receptionists at a hotel in an upscale neighborhood of Lima. Villarreal shows a note in her hand, which bears the four Chinese characters she wrote: “my friend”. [LIA ZHU / CHINA DAILY]

At hotels and tourist attractions in Peru's capital city, it's not unusual for Chinese tourists to be greeted in Mandarin.

In a hotel in an upscale district of Lima, Joel Vargas and Lilian Villarreal, two young receptionists, are able to greet guests from China with accurate Mandarin pronunciation.

Both of them are seniors majoring in hospitality management at the University of San Ignacio de Loyola. They work part time at the Foresta Hotel Lima to earn money for tuition.

From kung fu stars to the Shaolin Temple and Confucius, Vargas is proud of his knowledge of China.

"I read a lot about China and make friends with Chinese students at our university," he said. "I also picked up some Chinese expressions by watching Chinese movies."

The fi rst Chinese movie he saw was Armor of God with Jackie Chan. "I remember I was only 5 years old at that time."

Vargas has seen more than 200 Chinese films, with his favorite movie Wing Chun and his favorite actor and actress Donnie Yen and Michelle Yeoh, both famous kung fu stars.

When talking about kung fu and movie stars, Vargas sounds no diff erent than a typical Chinese college student.

In Peruvian capital, young taking to Chinese culture

He also started learning the Chinese martial art of wushu two years ago. "It's cool," he said, adding that there are a number of Chinese kung fu teachers in the city.

 He said he wants to visit China one day.

"It's not that far," he said.

The Shaolin Temple, a Buddhist temple in Central China well known for its kung fu-practicing monks, would probably top his wish list of attractions, he said.

Vargas also learned about China from his Chinese friends, mostly students at his university.

"They are intelligent and honest people," he said. "What I appreciate the most is the Chinese creed: ‘A gentleman is ready to die for his bosom friend,' " he said.

Villarreal, a fellow student of Vargas, cannot only speak Chinese but also write it. She took out a pen and wrote four Chinese characters to spell "my friend" on a note pad. "I am fascinated by the Chinese characters," she said with a smile. Villareal said she is taking Chinese classes at her university because it's going to be helpful to compete in the job market when she graduates in October.

"We have seen an increasing number of Chinese tourists in our country," Vargas said. "It's good for our tourism industry, as the Chinese people are usually big spenders."

 At the Swissotel Hotel, less than a 10-minute walk from the hotel where Vargas and Villarreal work, Premier Li Keqiang met with Peruvian President Ollanta Humala on Friday, and the two sides signed cooperation agreements to expand bilateral trade and people-topeople exchanges.

The premier also visited the National Museum of Archeology, Anthropology and History, in the Pueblo Libre district of the capital, where the exhibition Encounter between Chinese and Latin American Civilizations is on display.

"We hope more Chinese people will come to our country and learn about our cultura," he said.

Contact the writer at liazhu@