Learning to speak Mandarin has changed the life of Hiral Sangani, a 27-year-old Indian woman. Her proficiency in the Chinese language landed her a job in the Air China Mumbai Office, reports Xinhua.
Fascinated by the Chinese culture, Hiral started to learn Mandarin in 2016. One year later, she earned a chance to study in China on a scholarship program sponsored by the Chinese government.
"I studied Mandarin in Beijing International Studies University for a year," she said, adding that while at university, she got a Chinese name "Wang Hela."
"I chose to learn Mandarin because I was attracted by the amazing Chinese characters and the culture behind them," she added. Aside from Mandarin, she can also speak English and her native Hindi.
Her efforts paid off: Hiral passed the fifth level of the Chinese Proficiency Test, which means she can deliver a speech in Mandarin.
Hiral said her experience in China has broadened her horizon, deepened her insight into the Chinese culture and created more possibilities for her in the job market, helping her join the Air China Mumbai Office, a company running the only direct flight between Beijing and Mumbai.
"The year-long experience I gained from living and studying in China has made significant changes in my life," she said.
Air China hosted various cultural activities in Mumbai this year, which have effectively boosted tourism and enhanced cultural exchanges.
As a member of the group, Hiral has put her multilingual skills and cultural insight to use at these events, contributing to the mutual understanding between the two cultures.
"According to Indian customs, most girls at the age of mine have already been married and busy raising children. However, I became independent after studying abroad and joining Air China," Hiral said, describing how mastering Mandarin has changed her life for the better.
"With a stable income, I could not only take care of my parents but also support my younger brother to get a better education. People are impressed by my achievements," she added.
"Chinese parents usually bring up their children by asking their own to follow others' brilliant children as examples. In the eyes of neighbours, now I am becoming one of those examples," she said proudly.
Data shows that nearly 90,000 passengers flew between Beijing and Mumbai by Air China in 2018. Air China enjoyed a 13-per cent growth in revenue year-on-year from passenger transportation through the Beijing-Mumbai route in the first half of 2019.
"With the further exchanges of our two countries in various aspects, I believe that the popularity of the Mandarin language will be growing among Indians. More Indians will be interested in learning the language," Hiral said.
"I am teaching my friends Mandarin in my spare time, which can allow more people to have a better understanding of China," the young lady added.
"I believe our two countries and peoples can be much closer to each other once language is no longer a barrier," Hiral said.