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Namibian scholarship recipients fare well in China 

WINDHOEK (Xinhua) -- Martino Swarts, a Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST) student currently studying Mandarin at a university in China, encourages other students to seize every opportunity that comes their way, especially if it is education related.

The 19-year-old recently echoed this when he was back in Namibia on a month’s vacation.

Swarts is one of NUST duo who were awarded full scholarships last year by China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) to study Marine Engineering in China.

As part of the scholarship, the two students would have to study the Chinese language Mandarin for a year.

“Mandarin is not like any other language because it has tones and mixing up those tones can dramatically change the meaning of the word. But we have to, as it will equip us with the relevant language proficiency when we start our engineering course later this year,” Swarts said.

Swarts said they had two four-hour lessons daily, which can be especially challenging for someone coming from an environment where one-hour lecture is the longest.

“Concentration was a big problem at first, but we learned to cope with the strict discipline real quick, as we have something to prove to both ourselves and our country,” he said.

Before he got the scholarship, Swarts used to commute from Okahandja, which is 60km outside capital Windhoek, daily to attend his INSTEP (bridging course) at NUST and that for both him and Oiva Wilbard, the second bursary recipient, the financial burdens on their parents was unbearable.

Winning the full scholarship and making preparations for his life in China were never easy but the scholarship has changed his life, Swarts said.

“We had to undergo a stringent selection process including interviews with CHEC’s Management thereafter we only had less than two months before we left the country,” he said.

Though some of their family members and fellow students at NUST were worried about their life and study in China, Swarts managed to fare well.

“Although it took us a while to understand Chinese culture, we are now fully immersed in the Chinese way of living, which we find completely amazing,” he said.

Through his current exposure, Swarts is encouraging any student who gets an opportunity to study abroad to treat this seriously.

“Grab the opportunity with both hands. Do it for you, your family. You’re your country,” he said.

After finishing his studies in China, Swarts said he is ready to come and contribute to the country’s economic development but ultimately his goal is to work internationally and fly the Namibian flag high on international marine construction projects.

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