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Mitchell: Coming to ECNU was the best decision I've ever made in my life (A speech at the 17th International Cultural Festival)


Dear distinguished guests, teachers, classmates, good morning, everyone!

Welcome to East China Normal University's 17th International Cultural Festival! We are delighted to be here with everyone on this special day. I am Mitchell from Canada, an undergraduate majoring in Business Chinese at ECNU. I am delighted to be speaking on behalf of all international students today. When the teachers told me I would be giving a speech at the International Cultural Festival, I said it was a great honor for me because this journey has not been easy.

Participated in an intensive course in 2018 where Mitchell wrote his Chinese name for the first time

Firstly, I would like to tell the story of how I came to ECNU. In 2017, I was attending university in my hometown of Montreal. At that time, I didn't know what to do with my life. I went to university only because my friends were also going to uni. I didn't have much interest in studies and didn't have a sense of belonging at university.

When the time came to choose my elective courses, I remembered that from a young age my mother had always encouraged me to learn a new language. At that time, I was studying business, and China was a very important trading country, so I thought why not learn Chinese? This course was taught by a great Chinese teacher, and for the first time in my life, I fell in love with what I was learning, which is exactly what I have been pursuing. I told the teacher that I wanted to continue my Chinese studies, so she recommended that I go to Shanghai. I searched online for the best university to learn Chinese, which is obviously ECNU! In 2018, I arrived at ECNU, my teachers and classmates warmly received me, making me immediately feel at home. Coming to ECNU was the best decision I made in my life! I spent the best time here and learned a lot. In 2019, I joined the school football team and it was a great honor. We went to Wuhan to participate in the national football competition of normal universities, and during this process, I gained sincere friendship.

Participated in the 2019 Normal Universities International Students' Soccer Tournament

In 2020, the pandemic suddenly occurred, and after a month of quarantine, I decided to return to my family in Canada. After returning to Canada, I missed China very much, and I missed ECNU. During my online learning process, I came up with an idea to find a local Chinese language environment to continue practicing Chinese. I didn’t want all my efforts to be in vain. Guess where I went to learn Chinese? I went to a Chinese dumpling restaurant to work, and I was the only Canadian working there. Every day I spoke with my Chinese aunt, rolled out dough and wrapped pot stickers every day. I learned a lot there and my Chinese became more and more fluent. Later, I went to work at a Chinese KTV and also at a Chongqing hotpot restaurant. These jobs were very interesting. I worked while learning Chinese, and my Chinese language was also constantly improving.

Worked at a hot pot restaurant to practice Chinese in Canada

In September 2023, after three and a half years, I finally returned to ECNU! Having met familiar teachers and classmates, as well as the long lost cultural and historical buildings on campus and the Liva River, I am delighted to be back, it feels as if I had never left. When it comes to the most unforgettable thing about ECNU, it must be the International Cultural Festival, where students from different countries can share food, perform songs and dances together, communicate and appreciate each other! During my three years in Canada, I was always looking forward to returning to ECNU and participating in the International Cultural Festival. Now, I still can't believe it, as if in a dream, I have returned to ECNU and I am standing on the stage at the International Cultural Festival.

Participated in the previous International Cultural Festivals

Every international student has their own unique story of coming to China. Today, with different stories and cultural backgrounds, we gather here happily, in China, at ECNU, at our home. I hope everyone can create beautiful memories here, make new friends, and enjoy an International Cultural Festival full of friendship and unity.

Translator: Xu Xincheng