My Wonderful Time In Barbados

My name is Li Yanhua (Lisa), a Doctor for major of linguistics, and an Associate Professor of the Beijing Language and Culture University (BLCU). I have worked in South Korea and the UK as a Mandarin teacher and I also worked in Barbados from September 7, 2015 to June 25, 2019.

I heard about Barbados for the first time from my husband, Dr. Song Qingbao, in 2014. I knew nothing about this country before that, either about its location, size, population, or its beautiful scenery. I became very curious about Barbados and looked forward to landing and working in this country as soon as I could.

I began working at the Confucius Institute (CI) at The University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, from September 7, 2015 – and it was from that day that I started my wonderful time in Barbados.

Looking back the very early days at the CI, one word came to my mind instantly: ENTHUSIASM.

My colleagues and I grasped every opportunity to visit the local schools and spoke with the local people.

We visited schools and conducted some cultural showcases. I still remember the date, September 28, 2015, which was a fruitful, yet embarrassing day for the CI team.

We organized and prepared for two important events on the same day for the very first time: the Confucius Institute Day and the opening ceremony of the Chinese class on campus. But the weather was not cooperating.

Heavy showers came shortly after we set up the tents for the cultural showcase that afternoon. Worried that the cultural items would be destroyed by the rain, we hurried to move everything back indoors. All staff got completely soaked. But we had no time to change into dry clothes. We needed to prepare for the opening ceremony of the Chinese class that evening.

We were lucky to have more than 120 new students to participate in the ceremony. We taught the basic greetings in Chinese, played interactive games, talked, laughed and enjoyed the entire evening.

We really put all our energy and passion into that event with the help of our local friends who supported and helped us. And it was in that way that I started my work in Barbados.

Besides teaching Mandarin to all students, my main area of work at CI included designing teaching outline, HSK management (which is a worldwide standard Chinese Mandarin examination designed by the Confucius Institute Headquarters), organizing Chinese Bridge competitions, summer camps, and teaching Chinese research in the Caribbean. In 2017, I participated in designing the teaching outline for a Minor in Chinese. It is a big programme and will make the Chinese teaching at the Cave Hill Campus and Barbados a great success.

In 2018, I participated in the development of the Mandarin syllabus for CXC, which is also a big programme for schools in the Caribbean region, and which can also improve the teaching of Chinese in the region.

At the end of 2018, I worked with five other staff members from CXC to have an online conference to review and finalize the Mandarin syllabus and to design the specimen paper for Mandarin.

Even now that I have finished my work in Barbados, I am still looking forward to cooperating with the CXC to make the Mandarin CCSLC get on track as soon as possible.

After four-years working in Barbados and Cave Hill, I witnessed much progress between China and Barbados, such as the 40th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Barbados and China, and the launching ceremony of ABCF (Association of Barbados China Friendship). I made lots of dear friends and still keep in touch with them.

Barbados is a beautiful island and Barbadians are the most peaceful and friendly people in the world. Barbadians taught me how to enjoy the present and how to slow down your pace when necessary in order to think more.

I would like to thank all my colleagues, friends and students in Barbados. I wish you all have a wonderful future in beautiful Barbados and hope you can find some time to visit China.

I will be in Beijing, and wait for you, my dear Barbadian friends. I do wish the friendship between our two countries and our people will last for forever!