“It is difficult. It is stressful. It’s fun. It can be fun…like when you know how to do some certain things, it becomes very fun to do,” 16-year-old Tammy Aiya explains. Back home, she’s a former Miss Teen Nigeria. But here in China, she’s a student, learning a foreign and ancient art.
Tammy trains seven to eight hours a day, juggling… twirling… spinning… and then doing it all over, again and again. Chinese acrobatics is a tremendous show of skill and coordination. As much as it requires individual strength, trust and teamwork are crucial for a successful routine. Audiences are wowed by the performances, which have become world-renowned.
Chinese acrobatics originated 3,000 years ago in the northern Chinese city of Wuqiao. Even now, thousands come every year to train. Tammy and seven other Nigerian teenagers are here at the Wuqiao Acrobatics Art School on a scholarship arranged by the Nigerian and Chinese governments. It takes years of training to perfect the skills and pull off the impressive performances. But these students have only one year to learn as much as they can.
According to statistics from the China Association for International Education, 356,499 foreigners from 200 countries and regions came to China to study in 2013, an increase of 8.58% year-on-year. Increases primarily came from Africa, Europe and Oceania.
In the meantime, there are more than 100 million foreign speakers and learners of the Chinese language worldwide,with more than 350,000 foreigners studying it in 746 Chinese universities last year, according to Xinhuanet.
Back at the Wuqiao Acrobatics Art School, Tammy has just finished her first test. This final performance goes well.“If anyone should see me doing this,they would be like ‘wow oh my God, I’m really scared! I have never seen someone doing that before!’ and I am happy with that, because I spent a year learning how to do it. It’s part of my life, no regrets!”
Share your stories of change in China @CCTVNEWS or via firstname.lastname@example.org.