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Making friends and influencing German people (2)

By Xu Lin (China Daily)

16:14, July 31, 2012

"Other Confucius Institutes in Germany also joined us, to call on students in Germany to apply for the program. The summer camp is very popular among the students," he says.

"China and Germany have many things in common, such as perspectives on history and culture, but few people know that."

Hu says a shortcut to promote Chinese culture is to let Germans know about what they share in common, which may stir their interest in China.

He gives an example: Everyone knows the Silk Road linked China and Europe some 2,000 years ago, but few know it's the German geographer Ferdinand von Richthofen that coined the term in the 19th century.

He says Westerners are direct and like to follow a prescribed order, but Chinese usually do things without a plan and communicate indirectly.

"Although I've stayed in Germany for many years, I can't say 'no' directly like Germans. Like most Chinese, I don't know how to refuse others. The problem is that it may stir misunderstandings at work."

"Once a German asked, 'Mr Hu, do you have time on the third day of the 28th week?' I was dumfounded and had to check my calendar as I had no idea which day it was," he says.

"When Germans ask me about an activity in June next year, it's difficult to answer because we make our annual plans at the end of the year. We have no method to keep up with each other's pace."

He says he welcomes those who ask harsh questions about China, but these people are becoming fewer, as more people understand China.

"I've gained a strong sense of accomplishment here, because I can change a person's view by imparting new knowledge to him or her. I believe all teachers have the same feeling."

Hu is going to finish his five-year tenure soon and he plans to write a book about his experience at the institute.

"European civilization emphasizes technological development and reason, while Chinese civilization explores Confucianism and relations among people. If we combine the advantages of both civilizations, the human kind will benefit from it," the former president of the Parliament of Lower Saxony State Rolf Wernstedt, says.

Wernstedt says Sino-Europe dialogue has begun, but mainly in the field of the economy. He believes the Confucius Institute can play its role in promoting culture between the two countries.

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