My life in Zimbabwe

03 Mar, 2024 - 00:03 0 Views
My life in Zimbabwe Suying Qiu

The Sunday Mail

Suying Qiu

After my full day of lectures, I sat under the lamp and thought about the few months I had spent in Zimbabwe. This occurred in the evening of the third day of the Chinese New Year.

I want to share a lot of things, but I am not sure where to start. About the weather in Zimbabwe, one will definitely fall in love with the unclouded blue skies and amber dusk. When it comes to the scenery in Zimbabwe, one cannot miss the magnificent Victoria Falls and the tranquil Zambezi River. On Zimbabweans, one will be impressed by their gentleness and positivity.

A million words are not enough to describe how it really feels to live in Zimbabwe. Below is an account of my experiences, divided into three sections — Teaching in Zimbabwe, Living in Zimbabwe and Traveling in Zimbabwe.

Teaching in Zimbabwe

Teaching Chinese is my main job and so far, I have taught in both primary and secondary schools in succession. Each school has left a deep impression on me.

The learners are very polite. When a lesson is over, they walk with me to the school gate and help with carrying my backpack, and this touches my heart. They are very keen to learn more about China.

When I showed them photos and videos of attractions in Beijing and the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou, their eyes glittered and they jokingly asked me to put them in my pocket and take them back to China for sightseeing.

They were more surprised when I told them that China’s territory is 20 times bigger than that of Zimbabwe. For most of my learners, I am the first Chinese they have ever had a conversation with.

Some shyly asked if they could touch my hair. Others asked whether I knew Bruce Lee and whether I speak Shona.

It seemed they would ask questions forever. It occurred to me that geographical distance may limit the mutual understanding of our two peoples, but we never hesitate to reach out and get closer to each other.

Chinese is an ancient and beautiful language, yet it is not easy to learn. It belongs to a different language system from English. Learners found it more challenging to learn tones and writing Chinese characters. However, some of them are hardworking and usually raise their hands when questions are asked, reminding me to sometimes check their homework.

During lessons, I help them with their pronunciation, instruct them to practise and deepen their understanding through audio stuff, pictures and games. I also encourage them to apply what they learn in class to real life situations.

Occasionally, when teaching goals are reached ahead of schedule, I will let learners watch cartoons, including movies like “Journey to the West”, and they really like the main character Monkey King.

During the break between lessons, I instruct some learners to write Chinese characters in preparation for the characters competition. I hope they will pass their exams and study in China.

By immersing themselves in a language environment, their Chinese language level will improve, and they will be able to acquire more knowledge and skills, thereby changing their lives.

I have realised that there are many opportunities in Zimbabwe when one is conversant in the Chinese language. Every time I realise that my work can help people improve their lives or promote the exchange between the two civilisations. Even if it is just a small improvement, I am more energised.

Living in Zimbabwe

I live in Harare, which is known as the Sunshine City and the place has lots of flowering trees. As the name suggests, the sun shines in Harare most of the year; and jacaranda trees and phoenix trees stand along the streets. Also, there are vendors selling flowers and potted plants at corners of the roads. In addition, Zimbabwe is famous for producing blueberries, avocados and mangoes. You can find watermelons here all year round.

I live within the University of Zimbabwe campus, and the yard in front of my house has mango, guava, avocado and flame trees, as well as a variety of flowers.

When the rainy season approaches, the yard is lively, with birds singing.

Also, I really admire Zimbabweans’ benign manners and optimistic attitudes.

Even when I meet strangers on the road, they always greet me with smiles.

Zimbabweans like to laugh and have a good sense of humour. They also enjoy dancing.

I have also come to understand that Zimbabweans are devoted to their work. No matter where they stay, they arrive early to begin working. This has also encouraged me that no matter how hard life gets, one has to live, and one can always live.

Travelling in Zimbabwe

The African continent never lacks pristine natural beauty or birds and beasts, and Zimbabwe is no exception. The most memorable experience for me was the visit to the Victoria Falls.

At the entrance, one can hear the thunderous sound of the waterfalls. The closer one gets to the waterfalls, the louder the sound.

This thunderous sound gave me a sense of inner serenity, and I also felt as though a piece of me was rising slowly and eventually falling into Mother Nature’s arms. There are 16 viewpoints in the scenic area for visitors to see the attraction.

The river that flows from Central Africa rushes all the way to the gorge between Zambia and Zimbabwe, leaping down to the ground and splashing.

At the bottom of the falls, there is always a rainbow across the gorge during the day, sending blessings, hope and good luck to visitors.

Suddenly, I was thinking of the Chinese legendary poet Su Shi’s “Ode to the Red Cliff”: We are like mayflies stumbling through this terrestrial world, or a millet grain floating on a deep. What a short life span we have, yet how endless the Victoria Falls is!

Young souls always wish to explore the unknown and Zimbabwe has brought me lots of novel and unforgettable experiences. People tend to associate Africa with underdevelopment and ignore its unique landscapes and exceptional vitality.

Through exchanges with my learners and engagement with the local people,  among other activities, I feel the pulse of Zimbabwe and the breath of the African continent.

I adore the innocence, kindness and inquisitive minds of Zimbabwean learners. I like the enthusiasm of the Zimbabwean people, and I am deeply impressed and healed by the country’s natural splendour.

I feel very lucky to have the chance to not only feel the Middle East vibes and history in Egypt, but also experience the amazing sub-Saharan life and views in Zimbabwe.

Even so, given the vastness of the African continent, there is still a lot left waiting for me to explore and discover. Just walk slowly, feel it and appreciate it.

Ms Suying Qiu is a volunteer Chinese language lecturer for the Confucious Institute at the University of Zimbabwe.

Share This: