The email had a capitalized heading “ADMISSION NOTICE FOR THE SCHOLARSHIP”, I briefly hesitated to open the email. “Did I fail to qualify? Maybe I qualified?”. Various thoughts crossed my mind. With a trembling hand, I clicked the email and there it was like “Please find the attached admission notice for the Chinese Government Scholarship”
I was elated, a huge smile crossed my face, and this was beyond feelings of joy. I stood up and danced a little bit to celebrate the good news. This was a dream come true for me. I could not wait to tell my elder sister about the good news, and when I told her that I had got a scholarship to study in China, my sister was elated. She told me something “…my sister the Chinese are very studious” I never understood what she meant until classes began.
My being awarded the scholarship was a dream come true, for when I was in grade 7, we used to play a game called country game, where each person had to choose a name of a country they wished to travel to. The person would then go into the middle of a circle surrounded by others, the others would chant the name of the country three times and then another person chooses another country and enters the center of the circle. I often chose China, which name I had come to know through seeing it imprinted on cups in my maternal grandmother’s home. Yet, as a child I was clueless as to the geographic location of China. Added to my intrigued with China was the occasional watching of Chinese martial arts movies which at that time we called “films”. Little did I know that fast forward to 2021 I would be offered a scholarship to study in China.
Fast forward to 2021, things here moving so fast with the second email from the Chinese embassy mail asking me if I was able to attend classes online in place of being physically present in China because of the prevailing Covid 19 pandemic. Things were taking shape and I knew I was in, but then my computer skills were at the very basic level. To my surprise my worry turned to joy as we were taken through a series of computer learning packages induction. I was impressed with the manner in which the Professors presented in a simple and yet detailed manner such that I could easily follow the instruction and procedures. During the induction I realized that the SNAI was not just another institution, but a regional and global player with many prominent alumni across the globe. I realized that the most of the instructors if not all were Professors which was very rare from other institutions I had attended before. The distance and language barriers which had nagged me proved to be false fears as the induction was seamless. Above all previous graduates also gave us words of encouragement as they explained their journey with SNAI. I then realized that I can also be part of the great minds. While still marveling at the great induction process, we were told it was now time for serious business.
The first lecture was Introduction to China and this was quite an experience to know more about China. Professor Hongjun Zhao took us through the course with a different approach which left me wanting to hear more and waiting for the next Monday to come. During the lecture on Introduction to China, I had an opportunity to present data and information which I had I researched about China in this way I sharpened my knowledge on China and also being able to use PowerPoint presentation. During Professor Zhao’s class his presentations answered most of the questions that I had about China. The first thing that excited me was to know that in China there are two things that one can use to migrate from the rural to urban and that is marriage if you are a woman and for employment if you are educated. So Chinese people take school seriously from childhood. I also discovered that Chinese people culture is so powerful to the extent that it has played a vital role in the development of China. I also learnt the Confucius theory and that this theory is also applied in Chinese people’s day to day life and business dealings. I also discovered that in China if one is are a farmer, they are free to sell there produce anywhere. China is advanced in technology.
After learning all these things, I then understood why my grandmother used to have plates written made in China back then. I had never heard about the OBOR initiative but through Professor Zhao’s lessons I leant a lot about it. This project is not about one country benefiting it is a win-win situation where all countries involved can benefit. I was finally in China through understanding Chinese culture, economics, social life and politics from an insider view. It became clear that China is a global giant.
Eminently, the way classes are conducted is highly professional, the module instructors are very punctual and the teaching assistants are very helpful. This has made my learning so interesting. I cannot forget to mention my experience with Professor Robert Wihtol instructor for International Financial Cooperation. The lecturer took me from the simple to the complex, and known to the unknown. I used to hear people discuss about Countries receiving funding from the World Bank, International Monetary Funding and others and it used not to make sense to me. Because of this insightful lecture on International Finance, I am no longer a commoner anymore. I really enjoyed the depth of knowledge imparted by the Professor. Learning on why International Financial Cooperations where formed, their purpose and their core business. How can a Country qualify for funding and how the funding process and implementation is appraised? The information imparted was quite detailed. It was such an experience for me and everything about my learning experience has completely changed my life and I just know that after my school I will never be the same again.
Learning at a SNAI is one of the opportunities which I think many people would envy to do. The approach is quite unique and advanced. My greatest dream is to be able to read and speak Chinese fluently. There are times that I find things written in Chinese, but because I am unable to read them, I was often left wondering what it means. I discovered that the Chinese language is one of the languages with many native speakers. When the module was introduced, I was left wondering what I was going to do. The Professor is so technical that he made it so simple to understand the basics. From the very beginning I was wondering what I could do to understand this language. Initially, I said to myself, If I was ever given an opportunity to select modules, the Chinese course was going to be the one to be left, all because of fear which I had. Yet, after being taken through the paces by the course instructor and the teaching assistant it has become one of my favorite course. This module taught me to be hard working as I would have to make time for study each day in order to prepare for the next class.
Due to the Covid 19 pandemic, I failed to travel to China and which means I take classes on ZOOM. Having to take classes on line means there are costs associated with this. I was so surprised when I was asked for an account number so that I can get my stipend to support me with my learning. It was never going to be easy to attend classes online with the high costs associated with data and related costs. The payment of the stipend made life easier. The burden has been made easier as I can meet my learning expenses comfortably. I am so grateful to the Chinese Government and the Zimbabwean Government for coming up with this smart partnership of supporting under privileged students like me to acquire a global qualification in Professional Accounting at Masters Level.
SNAI learning community has become my second home. I am not regretting my decision of choosing this journey. Given the opportunity, I would like to pursue a PHD with SINAI. The depth of knowledge I have acquired so far makes me confident to pursue higher learning opportunities in China. My wish is to one day physically visit the school and enjoy the campus life and Chinese culture. China being big as it is but I think a visit of a few places for real experience will be more than an experience. One thing for sure is that the knowledge I have acquired will benefit Zimbabwe as a country and my Ministry in particular as this is high level knowledge. China is known as an all-weather friend in my Country and I hope many people will also get an opportunity to learn with China and have an opportunity to discover technology at its best. Above all from all the experiences gained, it is my hope that I will become studious like the Chinese people. The pressure from school work taught me that it’s possible to sleep after twelve mid-night doing serious business. I have been taught that time management is very critical. Due to the new normal I belief that online learning will be the new normal. I trust and believe that after the end of the two years I will be super brand and will carry the SINAI brand wherever. I now understand the Chinese proverb “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a step.”. My journey to studying with China began many years ago and manifested in 2021 and I will forever remain grateful for the scholarship.