Bilingual school in Budapest nurtures envoys of China-Hungary friendship

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The Hungarian-Chinese bilingual school was established in Budapest, capital of Hungary, in September 2004. It is the first full-time public school in Central and Eastern Europe that uses Chinese and the local language for instruction. Over the past nearly 20 years, the school has played a unique role in promoting cultural exchanges between China and Hungary over the past two decades. 

In early 2023, Chinese President Xi Jinping replied to a letter from the students of the school, encouraging the Hungarian youths to learn more about China and become envoys of the China-Hungary friendship.

When the school was just founded, it had around 100 students, and now the figure has surged to more than 500. More and more Hungarian students are embracing the Chinese language and culture, and many of them have been admitted to Chinese universities.

“Our goal is to nurture a batch of ‘builders of Hungary-China friendship,'” said Zsuzsanna Erdelyi, principal of Hungarian-Chinese bilingual school.

She told People’s Daily that apart from local students, the school also enrolls those from China, so that students from the two countries can learn and play together, which not only helps improve their academic performance, but also fosters profound friendship between them.

When a class was over, eleventh-grade students Sanyi and Li Fulin started playing Chinese chess in a corridor. Sanyi once lived in China with his father. He was sent to the bilingual school by his parents after they saw the prospering development of China and the huge potential of Hungary-China cooperation.

“It was so difficult for me to learn Chinese as a beginner,” Sanyi said. However, as he gained more and more Chinese friends, he has gradually developed a passion in speaking Chinese.

“Last year I had a study tour to China, during which I visited Nanjing University. I like it very much and hope I can be admitted to the university one day,” Sanyi told People’s Daily.

To create a better learning atmosphere for the students, the Hungarian-Chinese bilingual school holds rich and splendid cultural activities that invite parents and all sectors of Hungarian society. 

For instance, it has opened a Chinese language class for parents and hosts “Chinese open days” during traditional Chinese holidays, to encourage students and their parents to join fun cultural activities such as Chinese tea brewing, paper cutting and lantern making.

Erdelyi said the Chinese culture is charming and joining these activities offers so much fun. 

Papp Nora and Papp Dora are a pair of twins who have been learning at the Hungarian-Chinese bilingual school since they were very young. The two eighth-grade students consider the school their second home.

“The teachers always help me with patience and answer my questions,” Papp Dora said, adding that Chinese is a very beautiful language. According to her, she likes Chinese calligraphy while her sister loves traditional Chinese costumes. The two practice Chinese together every day.

Educated by the school, the twins have developed carefulness, diligence and resilience, which are all important qualities in any stage of life, said Trippon Mariann, mother of the twins, and chief economist of a Hungarian bank. She’s very optimistic about the potential of the Chinese economy, and believes that learning Chinese would gain her children more advantages for their future development.

Li Elizabet Fanni studies at Fudan University, Shanghai. She is one of the earliest students of the Hungarian-Chinese bilingual school to study in China. Recently, she served the China Import and Export Fair, also known as the Canton Fair, as a volunteer, offering services for Chinese and Hungarian enterprises.

“I hope more young Hungarians can visit China and see with their own eyes the development of the country,” she said, adding that she and other students will work to contribute to and carry on the Hungary-China friendship.

After nearly 20 years of development, the Hungarian-Chinese bilingual school has become an important witness to the bilateral relations between Hungary and China, Erdelyi said, adding that Xi’s first-ever state visit to Hungary will bring huge encouragement and inspiration to students of the school.



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