Feature: Chinese volunteers in Tunisia: messengers of friendship

08:39, November 06, 2009      

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Tunisia residents often can see Chinese volunteers, with a red star and a big word "volunteer" on their jackets, busily working.

China started to send young volunteers to the North Africa country in 2008 after the two nations reached an agreement at the China-Africa Cooperation Forum in Beijing in 2006.

There were only six volunteers on the first team, mainly teaching wushu, dancing and Chinese to Tunisians. Local people's enthusiasm for Chinese culture and art encouraged the Tunisian government to ask China to double the number of Chinese volunteers in the second team, including table tennis coaches. Recently the Tunisian government again asked to increase the number of Chinese volunteers in the third dispatch.

Wushu is one of the favorite sports among Tunisians. China's wushu volunteers totally devoted themselves to teaching after they arrived in Tunisia, helping its national team sweep eight gold medals at the Maghreb National Wushu Competition.

Fathy, chairman of the Tunisian Wushu Association, said the Chinese wushu teachers not only improved the skills of the Tunisian athletes, they also helped them learn more about the sport itself.

The table tennis coaches in the second batch went to teach in remote provinces. Their outstanding work attracted many students and the Tunisian government has asked China to send more coaches in follow-up teams.

It's the first time for most volunteers to go abroad, besides language, food, custom and weather differences, they also have to bear the pain of being away from home and their loved ones.

When wushu coach Li Ming heard that his unborn child died, he couldn't bear the pain. But he managed to change the pain to love.

"I'm a Chinese volunteer, I have to change my pain to love, and bring this love to my class, to the Tunisian children," he said.

The Tunisian government and people warmly welcome the Chinese volunteers. Kamal Sasse, vice general secretary of the ruling party Democratic Constitutional Rally, said previous volunteers were normally for humanitarian assistance. This time China sent young volunteers to work in areas like culture, sports and education.

Adeel Hussain, an official at the Youth and Sports Ministry, said the services that Chinese volunteers provide are exactly what the Tunisian people need and are warmly welcomed.

Besides offering their services, the Chinese volunteers also actively make friends and introduce Chinese traditional culture to local people. They are both the witnesses and builders of China-Tunisia friendship.

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