Indian lad vows to be a cultural ambassador in China

By Chen Ziqi China Plus Published: 2018-01-12 10:57:49
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Reporter: Luo Laiming and Chen Ziqi

Ranvijay is delivering a speech during an event of promoting Chinese and Indian culture. [Photo: from Yunan Pictorial]

Ranvijay is delivering a speech during an event of promoting Chinese and Indian culture. [Photo: from Yunan Pictorial]

Ranvijay Sinha is an enthusiast of Chinese language. To further develop language skills, he left his hometown India for China to accomplish his PDH degree 8 years ago. Currently he calls the city of Kunming in Yunan province his home. Besides having a stable job and a beautiful Chinese wife, another reason driving Ranvijay's will to stay is that he has a dream to fulfill. 

Image of Hsuan Tsang on a stamp issued in 2016. [Photo: from dfic.cn]

Image of Hsuan Tsang on a stamp issued in 2016. [Photo: from dfic.cn]

A dream, inspired by an ancient Chinese Buddhist monk, named Hsuan Tsang or Xuan Zang, a well-known Chinese Buddhist monk who introduced Buddhist scriptures to China from India during the Tang Dynasty. 

So why does this historical figure have such a strong influence on a young man from modern times? And what is the dream that Ranvijay commits his life-long time to accomplish?

Speaking of the reason to study in China, Ranvijay explained: "When I was in my hometown, my major was Chinese language. Before I graduated, my teacher suggested that I should continuously learn it in China if I really wanted to grasp it. China is an ancient country with profound culture; I cherish the opportunity of studying the language, and at the same time, experiencing the unique culture."

Yunan University campus [Photo: from VCG]

Yunan University campus [Photo: from VCG]

Ranvijay Sinha graduated from the Jawaharlal Nehru University in India. After his graduation, he joined Yunan University in 2009, becoming the first overseas PHD student from India to study in China. His major was in International Relations, a course he studied in Mandarin.

Zhao Bole is deputy dean of the International Relations Department of the Yunnan University. He says although Ranvijay's Chinese language proficiency was high when he started his first year, he still had limited knowledge on the Chinese society, culture and history. 

Today, Ranvijay understands the importance of understanding Chinese culture, so he has been seizing every available opportunity to blend into the society. He believes the best way to immerse in the society is to do as the Romans do.

Dragon Gate in Kunming [Photo: From VCG]

Dragon Gate in Kunming [Photo: From VCG]

Since attaining his PHD degree in 2012, he spends a lot of his time visiting historic resorts, walking through ancient streets, interacting with locals and indulging in local cuisine. Gradually Ranvijay has become very acquainted with the geography of the city and the local cuisine. Many people are surprised by Ranvijay's mindset and lifestyle similar to that of local residents.

A traditional rice noodles from Yunnan, called Guoqiao Mixian. [Photo: From VCG]

A traditional rice noodles from Yunnan, called Guoqiao Mixian in Chinese. [Photo: From VCG]

In Kunming, traditional rice noodles or Guoqiao mixian in Chinese are very popular. It's a dish that claims hundreds of years of history. It is served in a big bowl with scorching soup and side dishes that include rice noodles, quail eggs and some chicken or pork slices. Looking at so many dishes on the table, people who are not familiar with it might become confused and may not know how to eat it, especially because there are certain set rules to follow.

As an expert in Kunming cuisine, Ranvijay is very proud when teaching his friends the authentic way to eat this traditional rice noodles. "The correct way to have Guoqiao mixian is to put quail eggs and meat in the soup first,” he said, “Otherwise, the soup will not be hot enough to boil the raw materials. Rice noodles should be put in the soup last, because they are usually pre-cooked before they are served to customers."

When Ranvijay met his wife Fang Jing in 2013 he quickly fell in love with her because of their love for similar hobbies. At the beginning, Fang Jing's parents did not support their relationship, primarily due to their different religious and cultural backgrounds.

Despite that, Fang Jing vowed to continue seeing Ranvijay, because she believed the most crucial factors that determine if a couple would eventually get married are similar goals and values in life.

On October 18, 2015, Ranvijay and Fang Jing held an Indian style wedding in Kunming after they met each other 2 years ago. [Photo: From Chinanews.com]

On October 18, 2015, Ranvijay and Fang Jing held an Indian style wedding in Kunming after they met each other 2 years ago. [Photo: From Chinanews.com]

In 2015, Ranvijay and Fang Jing held an Indian style wedding in Kunming on October 18. They received blessings from a number of friends and relatives. Many guests witnessed their ceremony and were touched by their deep and unconditional love.

For the foreseeable future, Ranvijay has decided to live in China, because he has a dream to fulfill. A dream inspired by Xuan Zang; a Buddhist monk from Tang Dynasty, and the first Chinese public figure that Ranvijay knew in his childhood. Xuan Zang spent 17 years pilgrimaging to Ranvijay's hometown, in order to collect sacred scriptures for Emperor Gaozong of Tang dynasty. 

Xuan Zang Statue in Xi’an, the capital city of Shaanxi province. [Photo: From dfic.cn]

Xuan Zang's Statue in Xi’an, the capital city of Shaanxi province. [Photo: From dfic.cn]

Ranvijay respects him a lot because Xuan Zang overcame unimaginable challenges to bring back scriptures, eventually spreading the concept of Buddhism in China. To Ranvijay, Xuan Zang is like a cultural messenger who propagated Indian culture to China. 

He therefore wants to become someone like him, and thus his dream is to promote Chinese and Indian cultures, boost mutual understandings and to accelerate cooperation between enterprises from both countries.

Currently a teacher at Yunnan Minzu University, Ranvijay also helps Chinese students majoring in Hindi language access to opportunities to study in India in a partnership with the Entrepreneurship Development Institution of India. This partnership has seen the establishment of exchange programs with 4 prestigious Chinese universities.

Ranvijay received a group of delegation from the Entrepreneurship Development Institution of India, discussing about cooperative partnership. [Photo: From Yunan Minzu University]

Ranvijay received a group of delegation from the Entrepreneurship Development Institution of India, discussing about cooperative partnership. [Photo: From Yunan Minzu University]

By the end of 2017, five batches of Chinese students majoring in Hindi language have been sent to India to study. They are entitled to 14 months of exploring the Indian society. This move also aims to train potential talents for China and India joint-venture enterprises. 

The students are selected from the Yunan Minzu University, Xi'an International Studies University, Beijing Foreign Studies University and Guangdong University of Foreign Studies.

Another proud project that Ranvijay has been a part of is establishing a yoga institution in the Yunan Minzu University. Presently, at least two yoga professionals from India come to China annually to teach students, as well as to train Chinese yoga instructors. 

A professional from India is instructing Chinese students to perform yoga in the yoga institution founded in Yunnan Minzu University. Photo is taken on April 27, 2017. [Photo: From dfic.cn]

A professional from India is instructing Chinese students to perform yoga in the yoga institution founded in Yunnan Minzu University. Photo is taken on April 27, 2017. [Photo: From dfic.cn]

The establishment of this yoga institution was jointly promoted by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations and the Yunan Minzu University. 

These two institutions signed a memorandum on May 15, 2015, including details about setting up the first official yoga institution in China and founding Indian and Chinese cultural centers in universities from both countries.

Additionally Ranvijay has devoted his time outside of the school campus to promoting the Indian culture in Kunming. Every year, Ranvijay takes part in the organization of the Holi festival held at the university campus.

People are spraying colorful powders to each other at Holi festival. [Photo: From VCG]

People are spraying colorful powders to each other at Holi festival. [Photo: From VCG]

Holi festival is a Hindu spring festival, also known as the festival of colors. The date for Holi festival often falls between February and March; people gather on the street and rub gulal on each other's face, to celebrate the arrival of spring and expressing their gratitude for the good harvest.

In the event held by Ranvijay, international students from India sing Indian songs at the opening ceremony, followed by belly dancing and yoga performances.

People spray colorful powders to each other at Holi festival. [Photo: From VCG]

People spray colorful powders to each other at Holi festival. [Photo: From VCG]

Ranvijay notes that the goal to hold this traditional Indian festival each year in China is to let more Chinese youngsters understand more about Indian culture in a fun way. He believes it is more likely that students and other participants will be able to understand Indian culture better this way than from reading textbooks.

"No matter what country we are originally from, we have a similar mentality. We simply want to enjoy our life,” he said, “I think as long as people have a good time during the festival, it is easier for them to accept our culture."

Chinese and Indian governments have activity held cultural events in the past decades. A Taichi-Yoga event was held in the Temple of Heaven in Beijing on May 15, 2015. Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi attended this event. [Photo: from China Daily]

Chinese and Indian governments have activity held cultural events in the past decades. A Taichi-Yoga event was held in the Temple of Heaven in Beijing on May 15, 2015. Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi attended this event. [Photo: from Asian news photo]

Ranvijay has been putting numerous efforts in promoting Chinese and Indian cultures in his own way. He also expresses his hope that his son would continue his dream in the future.

A Taichi-Yoga event was held in the Temple of Heaven in Beijing on May 15, 2015.[Photo: from China Daily]

A Taichi-Yoga event was held in the Temple of Heaven in Beijing on May 15, 2015.[Photo: from Asian news photo]

"My wife and I have a son. I hope when our child grows up, he will follow my path to continuously promote Chinese and Indian cultures, strengthen cooperation and to boost mutual understandings among general publics from these two countries, just like how I am doing it."

Like Ranvijay, there are many more of his kind who have come to China with an aim of engaging in intercultural diplomacy, many of whom are students. A figure released by the Ministry of Education shows that by 2016, there were over 440,000 international students currently studying in the country. And these individuals can also be considered cultural ambassadors as they bring along their own cultural values while at the same time introducing Chinese culture to folks back in their countries.

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