|Loreto Joos (C) studies Chinese at St. Nicholas School, in Chile. [Xinhua]|
Loreto Joos, 18, a native of Quirihue (a small town in Chile), has given herself a Chinese name, Xing Meiling. In August 2019, she received the top prize during the Chile regional qualifier of the 12th "Chinese Bridge" Chinese Proficiency Competition for Foreign Secondary School Students. Since then, Xing's neighbors and middle-school classmates (in St. Nicholas School) have called her "Chinese Girl." The number of students who studied Chinese at the school increased from 34, in 2010, to more than 400, in 2019.
One day, when she was 13 , Xing inadvertently downloaded mobile-application software for Chinese learning. Fascinated by the "new world," she began using the software to teach herself Chinese.
"Now, learning Chinese is an important part of my life. I enjoy studying Chinese characters, arts, culture and philosophy," says Xing. "I always find joy and peace of mind when I study Chinese, listen to Chinese music and/or watch traditional Chinese dances."
Xing's Chinese teacher has been impressed by the young woman's enthusiasm for studying the language. During the several months when she prepared for the "Chinese Bridge" competition, Xing worked hard to improve her language skills — every day, including weekends and holidays.
In September 2019, Xing arrived in Zhengzhou (capital of Central China's Henan Province), to participate in the final round of the competition (held in October 2019). For the first time in her life, Xing left her home country. During the following three weeks, she tried her best to adjust to her new environment. "During my trip to Zhengzhou, I had more opportunities to access new things and ideas. That had broadened my mind," says Xing.
During the past three years, Xing has taught many primary school students (in her hometown) how to speak Chinese. Inspired by Xing, some of the children said they would teach Chinese in Chile after they grow up.
"As a super fan of China, I'm pleased to note, given the deep friendship between China and Chile, my pupils have had more opportunities to develop their potential," says Xing.
(Women of China English Monthly November 2021 issue)
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