Overseas Education College of Xiamen University

A delegate led by Dean Zheng Tongtao visited Northern Thailand and found it an area in great need of Chinese language education

A delegate led by Zheng Tongtao,President of Overseas Education College (OEC) of Xiamen University (XMU), visited Northern Thailand during June 6-9, 2016. The delegate was there to hold the thesis defense for the first distance learning undergraduate students of OEC Chiang Rai Pengboguan Educational Site. They also went to universities, high schools, middle schools and preliminary schools in the area to investigate the situation of Chinese language education.
Adjacent to Myanmar and Laos, Northern Thailand is a mountainous area relatively underdeveloped in the country. After the foundingof the People's Republic of China, the troops under the lead of General Li Mi retreated from Yunnan to China-Myanmarborder, their families together. Without any backup, the troop was stuck and became “an isolated troop in Northern Thailand”. They had no other choice but to settle down where they were, forming several Chinese villages in Mae Salong and other areas in Northern Thailand. With no Thailand identification, no recognition from Taiwan and no chance to get back to Mainland China, The majority of them are officially unidentified. According to the statistics from authorities in Thailand, the Chinese population in that area is approximately 200,000, while the actual number is estimated to be at around 500,000.
With such a huge Chinese population, there is a great need for Chinese language education in Northern Thailand.It used to be educational institutions from Taiwan and NGOs such as Yunnan Huiguan (Yunnan Association) who offered this service. In recent years, Mainland China has been increasing its communications with Northern Thailand. In august 2013, OEC took the lead and offered distance education degree programsatChiang Rai Pengboguan School, President Zheng Tongtao, Professors Li Rulong and Fang Huanhai presided over the celebration ceremony. The first batch of the students were finallygreeting their thesis defense after three years’ hard work.
Under the guidance of their tutors, each and every student, despite not having fully mastered the language yet, had made theirbest efforts to complete the very first academic thesis writing in their life time.The atmosphere at the venue of the thesis defense was so tense and solemn that many studentsbarely dared to breathe. At the moment when the chairman of the defense committee announcedthat all students had passed the defense, they felt so thrilled that they were jumping up from their chairs, some even shedding tears. President Zheng extended his wishes that all students would take the graduation as a new start to continue study and make their contribution to Chinese language education in Northern Thailand.
As soon as the defense was over, President Zheng and his companies visited Chinese Language School, Northern Thailand Jianhua Comprehensive Senior High School, Laanthong Taihua Middle School, Huipeng Zhonghua Middle school and Huayun School, a representation of 90 plus Chinese language schools in Chiang Mai and 60 plus in Chiang Rai.One characteristics of those schools is thatstudents study in Thai schools from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm before taking their Chinese classes in those Chinese language schools and studying until 9:00 pm. They have to take up extra work in order to blend into local communities while carrying on Chinese culture. Another characteristics is that the educational systems and textbooks of those schools are highly influenced by Taiwan due to historical reasons, for example, students learn Taiwanese phonetic alphabet and vocabularies. Furthermore, as Chinese tourists surge in recent years, being a tour guide becomes a major career for those students as they can speak both Chinese and Thai. The visit of the delegate brought a great deal of new teaching thoughts and practical information, receiving hearty welcomes from local schools.
The last stop of this trip was theConfucius Institute at Mae Fah Luang University, Chiang Rai. Huang Jianjun, the President of the Institute on behalf of Chinese side, is from OEC. He arranged various academic exchange activities for the delegate. At first, President Zheng gave a lecture on The Selection of Scientific Research Topics and Methods of Research for International Chinese Teachers for the faculty and students from Confucius Institute and Chinese Language Institute, which expandedthe audiences’ horizons with international perspectives and detailed resources. Afterwards, teachers from the scientific research topics team of Confucius Institute made brief reports on the topics under application to seek advices from the delegate members. At last, they had a heat discussion regarding the possible ways and the promising future of academic exchange and cooperation. 
This trip has brought the exchange and cooperation between OEC and Chinese language education community in Northern Thailand to a new level. The futuredevelopment of Chinese language education in this area is highly promising.


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