Kenyan young man embarks on aeronautic dream in China

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wechatBEIJING, May 9 — Verifying a friend request through WeChat, a Chinese version of WhatsApp Messenger, on a black Chinese Xiaomi smartphone, David Gerald Kyalo appears more Chinese than others here in the way he lives his life.

He likes rice and speaks Chinese. He has been to many places in China, among which, he was particularly impressed by Inner Mongolia, where the prairie is reminiscent of his hometown.

He is a 22-year-old Kenyan student studying at BeiHang University (formerly known as Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics, or BUAA) in the Chinese capital of Beijing, one of China’s top universities and renowned for such disciplines as aeronautics, astronautics and engineering.

“My dream was to be a pilot,” David told Xinhua in fairly fluent Chinese. “But only Chinese students are allowed to be pilots here in China, so I chose to study aircraft design instead.”

The young man first came to the country to study four years ago. After one year’s language training in northeast Changchun, he then officially started his campus life in Beijing.

Asked if he had a Chinese name, he replied with a smile, “It is simply Dawei, translated from my English name David as pronounced.” The name was given to him by his Chinese teacher, he said, and at first he took “Da” for the surname and “Wei” for the first name, as opposed to English names.

“When I realized I was wrong and the whole part was just the first name without a family name, it was too late to correct it,” he laughed. “So that was it.”

It was not on impulse that he decided to pursue his studies in China. His interest was piqued as early as elementary school, when one day he happened to come across a copy of a Chinese calendar and was enchanted by the Chinese characters, which looked so unique and different from the Swahili and English alphabets.

“That was the first time I had developed an interest in Chinese,” he recalled.

“Learning aircraft technologies in Chinese is like killing two birds with one stone,” he said, quoting a famous Chinese four-word idiom with ease. “You can both learn the technology and improve your Chinese.”

He was also one of the lucky ones to win a scholarship granted by the Chinese government. Each year, about 50 Kenyan students come to study in China on scholarship, he said, and a few others study at their own expense.

peopledaily.com

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