VALLETTA, Oct. 9 (Xinhua) -- Teachers and students at St. Margaret College Secondary School in Cospicua said they are determined to nurture and carry on the great friendship between Malta and China.
They expressed the hope as Chinese Ambassador to Malta Yu Dunhai on Thursday officially delivered a letter from Chinese President Xi Jinping in reply to teachers and students of the school's China Corner.
In the letter, Xi encouraged more Maltese youth to actively participate in people-to-people and cultural exchanges between the two countries. Xi wished the China Corner even greater success in the future, and welcomed faculty members and students to China for exchanges and study.
The China Corner was founded in 2010 by Martin Azzopardi, a science teacher at the school, with the aim of bringing "China" to his classroom following his first visit to the country. The Maltese government, the Chinese Embassy in Malta and the China Cultural Centre in Malta provided him with a lot of support.
"I feel highly grateful. I cannot believe that the Chinese president found the time to read my letter and kindly replied to it personally. This again demonstrates the kindness and humbleness of the Chinese people. I will treasure this letter throughout my life," said Azzopardi.
In July, Azzopardi and his students wrote a letter to the Chinese president, expressing their best wishes for the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Malta and China. The letter elaborated on the colorful activities carried out by the China Corner, as well as the efforts it made to promote multicultural understanding and enhance the Malta-China friendship.
Maltese Education Minister Clifton Grima said at the delivery ceremony that the Chinese president places high value on the work of the China Corner, as education indeed serves as a gateway to knowing other countries' cultures and also a bridge for cultural exchanges between countries.
Hailing the achievements of Malta-China collaboration in the past 50 years since the establishment of their diplomatic relations, the minister encouraged the China Corner to work even harder in the future to make more contribution to the bilateral friendship.
Aimee Bugeja, a 15-year-old student, was among those writing the letter to Xi. "Having a China Corner in our school is an opportunity for students to open up to another culture and helps us understand the beauty of China," she said, deeming it also an opportunity to learn to "build bridges and not walls" between different countries and cultures.
The China Corner, deeply loved by students of St. Margaret College Secondary School, provides them with lectures and various activities on the traditional Chinese culture and technologies such as tea ceremony, calligraphy, traditional Chinese medicine, Chinese ceramics, silk weaving, among others.
Joseph Ellul, head of the school, said the China Corner has brought students much closer to the beautiful and rich Chinese culture.
The China Corner and the Chinese language program of the school will "continue to promote the Chinese culture among our students and consolidate the friendship and understanding between the people of Malta and China, a relationship that has been steadily strengthened for the past 50 years," he said.
Xi's reply letter spoke highly of the active role the China Corner has played in enhancing Maltese young people's understanding about China and boosting the friendship between the two countries, Yu, the Chinese ambassador, said at the ceremony.
He voiced hope that the teachers and students will live up to Xi's wish and continue to serve as a bridge of cultural exchanges between the two countries.
The embassy stands ready to offer any assistance to the China Corner, especially on Chinese language teaching, he added.
Thursday's ceremony was "an encouraging moment for me and my students to keep on going," Azzopardi told Xinhua. "I hope students can inherit the friendship between Malta and China and continue to push it forward. The China Corner is a means to enhance the friendship between the two countries."
Ellul said he hoped teachers and students in his school will have the opportunity to go to China for study and visit in the future.
"China is a country that we wish to remain friends and build more projects together in the future," he said.