On April 29, 2022, in celebration of the 45th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Barbados and the People’s Republic of China, the Confucius Institute of The University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus held a virtual event entitled, “ A journey of a 1000 miles begins with a single step: Tales of the Teaching of Chinese Language and Culture in Barbados” which witnessed the gathering, interaction and camaraderie of many past, present and in some cases, future friends of both Barbados and the People’s Republic of China.
The guest list reflected a collection of past and present CI Co-Directors, Ambassadors of Barbados and China, the Deputy Principal of The UWI Cave Hill Campus, diplomats, senators, teachers, students, and general members of the public. All gathered under the banner of friendship to share excerpts of their experiences, as well as to provide a greater understanding of the present forms of economic, cultural, social, educational, and political exchanges between the two countries.
Areas in which these exchanges were observed included the software engineering program between the Global Institute of Software Technology, based in Suzhou, China and UWI (commonly known as the SWEN program), the creation of the sister school program whereby primary schools in Barbados are matched with elementary schools in China, the continuing efforts of the local CI to disseminate knowledge of Chinese culture and lifestyle throughout Barbadian society and the shared efforts of Barbados, the Caribbean and China in the ongoing war against the COVID- 19 pandemic.
The main course on the programme consisted of the stories which were shared by the invited speakers. These six speakers, ranging from Chinese teachers who taught Mandarin in Barbados, to local Barbadians who took up the mantle to teach Mandarin as a second language to fellow Barbadians, kept the full attention of the online audience.
The first speaker, Mr. Xu Bo, a past teacher at the Confucius Institute, shared his experience and various nuggets of cultural and personal knowledge which can be derived from the process of teaching Mandarin professionally. The confluence of inter-personal, inter-regional and international growth and development was clearly displayed.
Dr. Song Qingbao, the first Chinese CI Co-Director, shared a nugget of his personal and professional philosophy, which he summarized as the three F’s: Fulfillment, Friendship and Future. Using these as a guideline, Dr. Song showed how his tenure as Co-Director of the Confucius Institute created fulfilling memories of friendship which he would carry with him into the future.
Next, Mr. Samuel Sawyer regaled the online audience with a presentation entitled, “From basins to building out, purchasers to partnership”. This presentation showed how China influenced many Barbadians in ways that they were not consciously aware of, including through the popularity of martial arts movies.
The fourth presenter was Ms. Jocelyn Sealy, who shared her initial experience of Chinese language whilst pursuing her master’s degrees at the University of Surrey. Her research shaped her professional and personal experience, becoming an integral and fulfilling part of her present life.
The fifth speaker, Senator Dr. Chelston Brathwaite, the second resident Ambassador of Barbados to the People’s Republic of China, shared his journey of learning Mandarin before the beginning of his posting as Ambassador in Beijing. It was a captivating presentation which showed the audience that being a mature student is not a barrier to learning a new language. Strength, courage, humility, and a dash of humor, are useful artillery in the arsenal of learning Mandarin.
Finally, the presentations were wrapped up by Ms. Alexandria Payne who shared her experiences leading up to the start of her journey in China. It was the perfect ending to the presentations as she was one of the first students of Mr. Xu Bo, the first presenter. Therefore, as the Chinese saying goes 圆满结束(Yuánmǎn jiéshù, meaning successfully concluded), the presentations came full circle with her presentation.
A journey of 1000 miles indeed begins with a single step, and, after the event of April 29, 2022, the shared journey between Barbados and the People’s Republic of China has only just begun. Join us to discover what this journey has in store for us all.
The event may be viewed in full at this link: (693) April 29th Tales of Chinese Language and Culture Teaching in Barbados(千里之行始于足下) - YouTube
University of the West Indies
Cave Hill, Barbados