Founded in the 1920s, the University for Foreigners of Perugia located in central Italy is dedicated to teaching foreigners the Italian language. The reporter used to study there more than 30 years ago, when there were only 10 Chinese students throughout Italy.
During a recent visit to the university, it was found that all players at a basketball court near the university were Chinese students. A female teacher at the university’s Office of Academic Affairs told that the university enrolls nearly 1,000 Chinese students each year.
Statistics showed that the number of Chinese students in Italy increased from over 500 in 2005 to over 14,000 in 2012. When talking about China-Italy relations on various occasions, Italian President Giorgio Napolitano and Prime Minister Mario Mont both said that the increase reflects great progress in the two countries’ comprehensive strategic partnership.
The Italian government has attached great importance to improving ties with China in recent years. It launched a Marco Polo project in 2006 with the specific aim of facilitating the enrolment of Chinese students in Italian universities, opening up a “fast lane” for interested Chinese students.
Afterward, a Turandot project was launched as a partnership program between China and Italy, opening a “lane reserved for” Chinese students interested in studying music, painting, and arts in Italy. The number of Chinese students in Italy has grown exponentially thanks to the two projects. At present, Chinese students can be seen in almost every corner of the Italian peninsula.
Secretary-general of Italian Education Center Alto Rani, who had coordinated with colleges and universities to implement the above-mentioned programs, told the reporter that educational exchange is the basis for the promotion of cultural exchanges between Italy and China and the language learning will facilitate the trade exchanges of the two states.
Allesandra Lavagnino, professor at the National University of Milan and president of Confucius Institute in Milan, said that the Marco Polo project and Turandot project played a positive role in promoting the educational cooperation between the two countries. There are hundreds of Chinese students in Milan’s Confucius Institute and most of them had not learned Italian before coming to Italy, but they study hard and many have achieved excellent performance.
Counselor at the Education Department of Chinese Embassy in Italy Zhang Yilin told the reporter that currently there are more than 3,000 Chinese students studying in Italy and some middle and primary schools have opened Chinese elective.
As what president of Fondazione Italia Cina Cesare Romiti had said, young people are the future of Italy-China relations and play an important role in the bilateral economic and cultural relations, as well as other fields.