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Profile: Language teacher brings Chinese and Myanmar people closer

(Xinhua)    09:46, January 19, 2020

KUNMING, Jan. 18 (Xinhua) -- It was eight o'clock on a rainy Saturday night, but Nan Mya Mya Win was just beginning her one-hour Mandarin course for about 50 eager Myanmar youths, who had flooded the lecture room in a cultural center in southwest China's border city of Ruili.

The 37-year-old teacher, a Myanmar-born Chinese, has become a celebrity in the China-Myanmar border city, where she has been teaching Mandarin to many Myanmar people working in Ruili and teaching the Myanmar language to the locals for nearly six years.

The bilingual training program, funded by the local government and provided free of charge, runs throughout the year, with the Myanmar language course held from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. every Monday to Saturday and the Mandarin course from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. on the same days.

"Teaching the courses is the best two hours of my day," said Nan Mya Mya Win, who is affectionately called "Teacher Zhao" by her students after her Chinese name Zhao Hongxian. "I'm very happy to help my students learn each other's languages and bridge the communication gap."

Born and raised in northern Myanmar's Mogok Township, Nan Mya Mya Win started working in Ruili in 2014 after working as an interpreter for 10 years in Yangon, Myanmar's largest city.

"I had visited Ruili many times before 2014 and was impressed by its beautiful cityscape and growing number of high-rises. Besides, I've wanted to become a teacher since childhood. That's why I came to Ruili after I heard they were recruiting a language teacher," she explained. "I only wanted to give it a try at the beginning, but the job has become an integral part of my life over the years."

Nan Mya Mya Win also administers the cultural center's library during the day and teaches language courses to more than 100 trainees from China and Myanmar at night. The number barely topped 30 when she took up the job in 2014.

She said many of her Chinese students are business people who need to communicate with Myanmar people frequently or plan to seek opportunities in the neighboring country, whereas most of her Myanmar students joined the program in the hope of better integrating into the local society and improving their employment prospects in Ruili, which hosts over 30,000 registered workers from Myanmar.

"It normally takes three months for the Myanmar trainees to learn to communicate with the basics of Mandarin, and better mastery of Mandarin can help them get higher pay and land better jobs," Nan Mya Mya Win said.

Htet Htet San, a Myanmar worker who has attended the program since 2016, said her monthly income from the packaging work at a local motorcycle factory has doubled within four years thanks to her improved proficiency in Mandarin.

"I'm planning to open my own motorcycle shop in Mandalay to sell China-produced motorcycles and motorcycle parts after I earn enough money in Ruili," she said.

Nan Mya Mya Win said besides teaching languages, she often introduces the two countries' history and culture to her students during the courses. "When I teach new words to my students, I usually introduce the customs, history and culture underlying the words. And I often play popular Chinese and Myanmar TV shows in the class," she said.

"The people of the two countries can only be brought closer when language is no longer a barrier between them. So the training program has become a bridge connecting Chinese and Myanmar people," she said. "I hope to help more people learn the Chinese and Myanmar languages."

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Liang Jun, Bianji)

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