Xi Story: An exchange of Spring Festival letters with Hungarian students

(Xinhua) 08:11, May 09, 2024

This photo taken on Aug. 4, 2023 shows the Chain Bridge spanning the Danube River in Budapest, Hungary. (Photo by Attila Volgyi/Xinhua)

BEIJING, May 8 (Xinhua) -- Hungarian students Bonita Varga and Tamara Imre were thrilled to hear from Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2023, soon after they wrote to him ahead of the Spring Festival in January of that year.

"My wife and I were glad to receive your letter during the Spring Festival in the Year of the Rabbit. I still remember interacting with teachers and students at the Hungarian-Chinese Bilingual School in 2009," Xi said in his reply letter, referring to the school that Varga and Imre attended.

In their letter to Xi and his wife, Peng Liyuan, Varga and Imre expressed their gratitude after winning the Chinese Ambassador Scholarship for a second time, and conveyed festive greetings on behalf of all the students at the school.

The two Hungarians had been studying Chinese at the school for 12 years by that time. Varga, whose Chinese name is Hu Lingyue, describes learning the Chinese language as "a beautiful thing." And Imre, whose Chinese name is Song Zhixiao, says that she enjoys binge-watching Chinese video websites. They both have an appreciation for Chinese calligraphy.

Varga and Imre both hope to work as translators in the future, and they said that Xi's reply had been a source of encouragement to continue studying the Chinese language.

Their letter expressed their aspirations to study at Chinese universities and contribute to the Hungary-China friendship.

Commending their goals, Xi said that they were welcome to study at Chinese universities after graduating from high school.

The two Hungarians' hard work paid off. In September last year, they were admitted to Capital Normal University in Beijing.

In his reply letter, Xi also expressed the hope that more young Hungarians will learn about contemporary China, as well as the country's history and culture, and strive to become envoys carrying forward and developing the China-Hungary friendship.

Xi's ties with the bilingual school began in 2009 when he visited it during a trip to Hungary as China's vice president. It is the first full-time public school in Central and Eastern Europe that teaches through both its local language and Chinese. It has 20 classes and more than 500 students.

Zsuzsanna Erdelyi, head of the school, remembers that Xi smiled throughout his visit, speaking with the students about Chinese poems and songs for children.

"The temperature dropped suddenly that day," she said, noting that Xi had been aware of the change and urged the students to return inside as soon as possible.

Xi brought presents of teaching materials and educational tools, and assured the school that he would support and help with its development, Erdelyi said. "I think he fulfilled this promise to the maximum and created many opportunities for the students studying here so that they could be taught well."

When the bilingual school was founded in 2004, most of its students were native Chinese speakers or from multiracial families, she said. "Today, most of the students are native Hungarian speakers."

The Chinese language has been incorporated into Hungary's national educational system and has become a college entrance exam subject in the country, she added.

The school is a prime example of increased exchanges and cooperation between Hungary and China.

Under the strategic guidance of the leaders of the two countries, China and Hungary have in recent years maintained a high level of development in their relations.

Quality agricultural products from Hungary, such as beef and wine, have entered households in China, and technologies that Hungarian companies have developed to empower interaction have been applied in Chinese museums and exhibition venues. New electric vehicles from Chinese brands NIO and BYD can also be seen frequently on the streets of Hungary.

Hungary is the first European country to sign a Belt and Road cooperation document with China. And Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has attended the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation (BRF) for three consecutive times.

"China is willing to continue working with Hungary to be good friends and partners who trust each other and pursue win-win cooperation, and to take the China-Hungary comprehensive strategic partnership to new levels," Xi said when he met with Orbán during the BRF last year.

As this year marks the 75th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Hungary, Xi's upcoming state visit to the European country is expected to elevate bilateral relations to a new level and yield more fruitful results.

(Web editor: Zhang Kaiwei, Liang Jun)


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