David Janna: a foreigner's Chinese dream


David Janna is an athlete-turned-student who graduated from ECNU this year, earning a bachelor’s degree at the International College of Chinese Studies (ICCS). In exchange for all of his hard work in the past four years, David has reaped the benefits of diversifying his talents and increasing his language skills through the University. David came to ECNU from Colombia of South America in 2013 to study Mandarin-Chinese and pursue his undergraduate degree at the ICCS.

Although he had never learned Mandarin-Chinese while living in Colombia, he has already demonstrated his fluency in the language after studying it for four years at ECNU, meanwhile becoming an icon for the international students on campus. David plans to engage in his postgraduate studies in international relations at the Tsinghua University.

A diligent student in ECNU 

David was an outstading student in high school. As a professional athlete, he got many prizes in international games. He even won a special honor-- President's Education Award signed by former U.S. President Barack Obama. He had gained favor of many noted unviersities in America which offered him very high scholarship, but he still chosed ECNU because he had obtained a chance to study Chinese in the University for one year in 2012 and fallen in love with China and its culture. 

It was definitely a life-chaning decision for David. In the summer of 2013, he flew all the way across the Pacific Ocean to Shanghai, China to pursue his Chinese dream.

During the past four years in ECNU, David has led a life of austere self-discipline. On a routine-basis he went to the gym every morning from Monday to Friday before attending class. He never missed a class, left early or even asked for one leave. He always took a seat in the first row of the classroom and diligently prepared for his homework and exams. He remembered the name of every one of his teachers.

Through his academic achievements he proved that steadfast work is always rewarding - he gained 3.7 credits and went to the University of Sheffield of the UK as an exchange student, from which he graduated as a honor student with straight-A’s. He was also awarded the ECNU Distinguished International Student Individual Scholarship. Though, he did not think of himself to be as talented as others— “Clumsy birds have to start flying early” was his motto.

Life is “here”

As a major of Chinese and English languages for international business, David is a sharp thinker who is able to adapt to the local environment in China. This clever and enthusiastic Columbian-native is also a hat collector who enjoys wearing hats which display the insignia for both the Columbian and Chinese national flags. He said that he feels confident and resolute with sporting the symbols of the two countries that he loves.

What is most surprising to everyone is that he can recite China’s Core Socialist Values - prosperity, democracy, civility, harmony, freedom, equality, justice, rule of law, patriotism, dedication, integrity and friendship. This is even too difficult for some Chinese to recite.

He was nice to everybody, including the teachers, dorm managers, securities and canteen workers who all say that his warm smile and ability to get along with others was evident from his personality. He even grasped some of the Shanghai dialect.

As an international relations student, he is persistent in keeping up with international news and learning more about China’s position on global matters. This is so that he can keep up with the changing circumstances in order to understand and analyze the possibilities of the future.

Touching ECNU and China with his heart

David has dedicated most of his leisure time to organizing cultural activities on campus and providing social services to experience the life of his Chinese counterparts. For example, he worked as the first chief of the International Division of the Student Council of the ICCS with the main task of planning exchange programs for Chinese and foreign students. He became an overnight sensation after hosting events for ICCS, since then he has been noted as the top-choice to emcee for all of the Universities’ cultural activities. He was present at the ECNU International Cultural Festival where he set-up a booth to showcase the culture and pride for his native-country Colombia.

In the summer of 2014, David went to teach as the only foreign volunteer from ECNU at a poverty-stricken primary school in Yunnan Province. As a sports talent, he became a sports teacher in a primary school. he led groups of kids to play games and do excercises. 

“I learned that other than big cities like Shanghai, there are also poor and rural places in China. But Yunnan is so beautiful that I long to go there again,” David said, Maybe for him, the kids are even more beautiful.

“I admire them, Although they are lacking in money and opportunites, they are happy and passioante about life. They study hard and strive for a better future, That's really something!

As an active student, David also attended the 16th Congress of the Shanghai Students’ Federation as a specially invited representative from ECNU. At the congress, he handed out nearly 100 self-made questionnaires and delivered a speech titled “Adaption Level of International Students to Urban and Campus Life in China”.

He was asked to conduct an interview with the world channel of the Shanghai TV Station to express his opinions and knowledge on China’s new visa policy for international students. It was subsequently made into a short film for publicity measures. He also took part in the inauguration ceremony of the Han Culture Base for International Students in Hanzhong City of Shaanxi Province. He was then asked to make another address at the following development forum there.

Love ECNU for ever

In addition to study, David has a rich after-school life. Doing sports is his first hobby. He often wakes up at 5 o'clock in the morning, works out at the  gym till 7 o'clock, then gets ready for class. He is also a fitness instructor, For him, doing exercise regularly is part of a healthy lifestyle. 

Besides that, David also enjoys riding his moto scooter to take a look around in his spare time. For him, Shanghai just like his sceond hometown. “My favorite place is the Bund. I have been to many countries and places, but if you ask me, I will tell you the Bund is the most beautiful place in the world.

Having stayed in ECNU for four years, David’s heart is filled with gratitude for the Univerity which has shaped his personal characteristics and provided him a platform to display his talents and challenge himself to work harder. When talking about his plan for the future, he said he wants to stay in China for a longer time and have his own busiess here. That’s my dream, my Chinese dream.

At this year’s commencement ceremony, David’s speech impressed almost every one at the ceremony. He wrote a letter to the Univercity president Chen Qun before the graduation ceremony, expressing his desire to give a speech at the ceremony in order to speak out about his love and appreciation for ECNU on the behalf of all international students.

His feelings, in short, can be translated into “I love ECNU and it will be my home forever”. 



East China Normal University