The original story began years ago, way back in 2015, when Beijing International Studies University (BISU) launched a seven-year special program with the participation of twenty high-school students, in the framework of which those students could learn Hungarian in three years and then continue to study Hungarian at a university in Hungary.
Through the assistance of Pekingi Magyar Kulturális Intézet [Beijing Hungarian Cultural Institute], BISU thus contacted the University of Debrecen (UD) and Debrecen Summer School (DSS). These institutions together laid the foundations of a joint program, so students could start taking Hungarian classes in China with the help of Hungarian guest instructors.
Eventually, the first twenty Chinese students arrived in Debrecen in September 2017 to participate in a one-year Hungarian language and culture training session. Most of their classes were held by the teachers of DSS, and their tuition concluded with a written and an oral admission exam conducted in cooperation with the staff of the Institute of Hungarian Linguistics of the Faculty of Humanities (BTK).
Those who came through flying colors qualified for admission to the Hungarian bachelor's program and, finally, as many as twelve of these Chinese students graduated with a Hungarian degree in 2022.
The currently graduating fifteen students, including Adél (Zhang Anyuan), Andi (Xu Jianing), Csenge (Liu Yichen), Tünde (Yang Xi) and Vali (Liu Yonghan), chose a Hungarian name for themselves when they were still at home in China, at the very beginning of their Hungarian studies.
They first came to Debrecen in 2016 to further hone their language skills, and started their studies in higher education at the Faculty of Humanities of the University of Debrecen in the academic year 2020/2021.
Most of the focus of instruction for them during the past three years has been primarily on learning the Hungarian language as accurately as possible, but it was also an important aspect of the training program to help them acquire a thorough knowledge of the Hungarian linguistic system and to give them an overview of the culture of the Hungarian people through the contents of literary and linguistic subjects.
"They have all come a long way since the first time we met; most of them have become responsible and purposeful young adults right in front of our eyes in a country foreign to them, far from their homeland," said Edit Dobi, Coordinator of the Program for Chinese Students Majoring in Hungarian, to hirek.unideb.hu.
Ms Dobi, Associate Professor of the Institute of Hungarian Linguistics of the University of Debrecen, emphasized that learning Hungarian to reach a level that enables one to study and elaborate on professional topics, including literary and linguistic choices, while giving an account of one’s knowledge in Hungarian is never an easy task at all. These Chinese students have worked real hard to defend their theses in order to get their diplomas at the end of the current academic year.
Indeed, by the end of their BA studies, the fifteen Chinese students majoring in Hungarian have already prepared their theses, written as a matter of course in Hungarian. Their chosen topics include, for example, a comparative analysis of disaster stories from Greek and Chinese mythology, European Art Nouveau poster art at the turn of the century, and literary education at preschool age in China and Hungary.
In addition to studying language, the Chinese students also had the opportunity to get acquainted with genuine Hungarian culture: they have been to concerts, festivals and summer camps, and visited locations such as Budapest, Lake Balaton, Eger and Sárospatak.
In order to preserve and practice their customs and traditions, they have also joined CSAD (Chinese Student Association of Debrecen), which was founded in 2018. In addition to helping the more than 350 Chinese students enrolled here, CSAD is committed to facilitate cultural exchanges between China and Hungary. In addition, they are also regular participants in the courses and cultural programs organized and hosted by the Confucius Institute of the Faculty of Humanities of the University of Debrecen. Their aim, besides getting to know the Hungarian language and culture, is also to assist Hungarians to get to know China in return.
Following their graduation, some of the students wish to continue their studies at the University of Debrecen and get a master's degree, while others intend to complete a program at another university in Europe. A few of the fresh graduates consider literary translation or interpreting as a path to take, and there are also those who would like to teach Hungarian in China within the framework of the training program launched at BISU.
Just like it did a year ago, the Faculty of Humanities plans to arrange a special graduating ceremony for these students, too. The ceremony, scheduled to be held on June 15, will be virtually attended by BISU teachers as well as family members and friends of the Chinese students, thanks to the online connection with BISU, their alma mater in Beijing.
Press Center – BZs