Sunday, August 16, 2009

Students: Promote PNG in China

This article was published by Sunday Chronicle on Sunday 16th August, 2009 under "Asia Pacific Perspective: China +" column.

By Mathew Yakai

THE last two articles in this column specifically looked at what potential students who will leave for studies in China this September will face.

In this article, I would like to reiterate the importance of promoting PNG in China. This is given the fact that the students will not only go to China to study in their specific subjects but also represent PNG in China in all their conducts.

In other words, they will be PNG’s student ambassadors in China in their respective rights. I had the privilege to represent PNG in China as a student and when looking back, I am satisfied, yet wish I could do more.

Those who had the chance to go abroad will know that the first thing one do when introducing himself/herself is stating his country of origin.

When in China, I had the same experience. When I tell Chinese students and friends, most of them don’t know where PNG is located. They think that PNG is some where in Africa or in USA.

They don’t believe that there are some black people living in the Pacific sharing land border with Indonesia. I went to an extent of convincing them that yes, am a native Papua New Guinean.

Even some international students do not know where PNG is located. So it is our responsibility as students in China to carry out the awareness of PNG and its uniqueness.

When I was in China, I engaged myself in many social activities with an aim to make known PNG to the broad Chinese students.

I do not blame them for not being familiar with PNG because PNG is not a major player in the region and world, like USA, Britain, Japan, Australia etc, or not like Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan etc which are associated with terrorism and attracting news headlines.

PNG is peaceful, yet unpopular to many. But the fact remains that PNG is so diverse with cultures and traditions and has one of the largest language (860) in the world. When I tell Chinese students and friends, they are amazed.

When you are in China, I assure you that many Chinese students would want to befriend with you. I made a lot of friends.

Their aim is to improve their spoken English and I used the opportunity to improve my Chinese and also know more about China. So once I became their friends, the first thing they learnt from me is of course my name and country.

Then I tell them more about PNG and eventually they are interested in PNG. Every weekends and afternoon of weekdays are occupied with either dinner or lunch with long chats.

I also became the member of biking club. During summer, we would bike to nearby cities like Jilin, Harbin, Shenyang and Dalian, including all little streets, parks, zoos etc within Changchun city.

In the biking club, we have more then 80 members. That also provided me the opportunity to promote PNG. And I also used the opportunity to know Changchun and other parts of China well through biking.

I suggest that one of the best ways to know China well is through biking. We decided to bike to Tibet but due to some problems in that province, we cancelled. But my dream to bike to Tibet, the highest city on earth still remains.

Another way I used to promote PNG is when talking to students in Universities and high schools. Teachers would invite me to speak to them about PNG.

When I am invited, I take my Tolai basket, and wear my highlands cap when presenting myself in front of the class. I run down all the interesting features of PNG and make all students love my country.

During that time, I also sing one or two traditional songs and reiterate to them the uniqueness of PNG. I also provide them with website address where they can read and know more about PNG.

One time I was invited to speak to an English class at Jilin University and one student asked me whether PNG recognized One China Policy and I told her that PNG does. She was so happy and thanked PNG government.

Another student asked me whether it is true that PNG men marry more then one women. I told them that it is happening even today. Then a female student asked if I will marry more then one wives and my answer was “no”.

I told her that it is repugnant to the general principal of humanity, and I feel that it is not fair on the part of our mothers and sisters in PNG. This is my own opinion.

I jokingly told them that if they want to have more then one child then they consider marrying a PNG national because in China, they have One Child Policy. All of them burst laughing!

All universities in China also have what they call Big Days. A day is designated by the foreign student office of individual universities where foreign students and Chinese students would showcase their countries.

I love this day because I get my self into PNGs traditional gear with my face painted to show-off PNG to the world.

I was so silly not taking with me the full traditional gear. I only took a Tolai basket and a highlands cap.

So when the Big Day approaches, I wear a Pacific laplap, carry my Tolai Basket, wear the Highlands cap with my face painted using a red and black marker.

At my stall, I print all the colored pictures of PNG culture and tradition and have them pasted on the wall with a small PNG flag while my laptop plays clips of PNG cultures and songs downloaded from youtube.

I also had a guitar so when the clip on my laptop plays, I strum the guitar and sing all the popular hit PNG songs. I make it so loud that I get the crowd around me.

Sometimes, I sing some of my traditional songs and that makes people puzzled. To be honest, I get the biggest crowd. Many come to me asking for more details.

At Jilin University, I am the only PNG student and I try to put up a one man show. Other PNG students in other universities do the same during their Big Days.

In the afternoon, respective students will be invited to the stage to perform one or two items from their countries. When my turn comes, I get my gear on with no shirt on and shout into the mic singing one of my traditional songs which was taught by my late mum.

When I take the stage, the crowd goes really wild because PNG’s culture is so unique and it amazes them.

Because of my active showcase, I have been invited to perform to a Russian delegation that visited Jilin University, and also was invited by Changchun TV to perform live. Many schools in Changchun also invited me to perform.

When I had these opportunities, I try to emphasize to them the name of my country, where it is located and why it is unique and fascinating. And am sure that from there, the audience Google to know more about PNG.

I am satisfied that at least I have promoted PNG in China. During my travel on trains and buses within China, I talked with people and they first asked where I am from. So I introduce them PNG and make them fully understand my country.

I wish I could do more to promote PNG in China. But I regret that I did not take with me some traditional costumes and artifacts to showcase them in China. Even T-Shirts and caps with PNG print on would be good to promote PNG in China.

Thus, for the new students who will leave in September might consider taking with them the following to promote PNG. Try to take some traditional costumes with you because when it comes to your Big Day, I am sure you will need them.

You must also buy some T-Shirts, caps with PNG flag and bird of paradise printed on. You may want to buy some string bags and caps and take with you and give them as presents to your Chinese friends. They will like it very much.

From my experience I must tell you that you may not treasure and realise how much you love PNG when you are in PNG. But once you are out of PNG, you will love PNG and you will be proud of your country.

To show your patriotism you will do all you can to promote PNG, in class to night clubs and other social activities. And one of the best means of promoting PNG is by having the costumes and original staff from PNG with you.

Most of our students who go overseas are “brown coconuts”. They are brown/black outside but inside them, they pretend to act like “whites”. They totally ignore their origin and do not actively promote PNG overseas.

Most time they go partying and engage themselves in other things, instead of promoting PNG. Well, they have their own choice.

But if we are to attract more tourists and investment then we need not to rely on the day’s government. As individuals we can do our part and being students overseas, we are rightly placed to do that.

I personally believe in this. “One can take me out from PNG but he/she can not take PNG out from me”. Where ever I go, work, live, study etc, I will still remain a proud Papua New Guinean.

The PNG flag will always fly in my action when I am abroad because my blood is thick from the land of thousand tribes and one day it shall return back to the Land.

Go, promote PNG in China and build that human gap between the people of China and PNG through student diplomacy.

Make us proud when you are in China while in PNG we pray to God to give you the wisdom and knowledge as you encounter the amazing China.

The Chinese people are kind and welcoming. You will eventually love them, the food and their hospitality.

Note: This column looks at what PNG can learn from China. The writer was a student in China and obtained his Masters Degree in International Relations. For queries and questions, email him on or SMS on 71489901


Anonymous said...

Hi Matt,

My name is Kevin D'Arcy; I used to teach at UPNG but I think that was before your time.
Ross Stevens was running the show then & another UK guy. Julie Bengi & her brother(WHP) were in the class I remember as well as a lot of other very bright guys. Some went to work for the National.

I was a good friend of John Kil (RIP) and visited his place many times. I still write to some of his kids. It was very sad about his death but he was a crazy driver.When I saw Mt Gilowe on your blogg I guessed you were from Western Highlands and suprised to learn you are from Tambul. Are you on Facebook?

Another good (crazy) friend was Andrew Pius Spencer - PMV driver and raskolman around Mosbi - only kidding! I wonder if he is still around. Sometimes he's in Hagen, sometimes Lae but mostly POM.

A couple of months ago a minster or MP was complaining in Post Courier about the poor level of English & teaching of English in PNG schools. I wonder did you see that article or remember the MP's name?

I'm still writing school readers & text books for PNG/Pacific & would like to submit my ideas to him. Let me know if you come across that article or know his name.

Enjoy reading your postings. You are totally correct about the rise of China and the decline of the West esp. USA. It will happen a lot more quickly than we realise. USA & her crazy wars against innocent Afghanis & Iraqis will sink her financially. Unfortuately we will pull the rest of the western countries down with her.

All the best

Kevin D'Arcy

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