In celebration of the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of China (CPC), Xi'an FanYi University staged a performance themed "Uphold the Party's Leadership and Pursue Dreams in Youth" on the Dragon Boat Festival in 2021. The drama about Norman Bethune, starring Dirk Werner Hartmann (Chinese name Zhang Ke), a German foreign teacher, was highly acclaimed by tens of thousands of students.
In early 2020, Hartmann, as the sole teacher of a private university in Shaanxi province, together with nine other foreign experts from universities and enterprises in Shaanxi province, won the Sanqin Friendship Award issued by the Shaanxi provincial government.
On April 21, Hartmann took the initiative to participate in the studying activity of the party's history based onthe Communist Manifesto. He taught the story of Marx's magnificent life in English, including details about Marx's birthplace, learning experience, life experience, intimate friends and achievements.
He also recited part of the preface ofthe Communist Manifestoin German, allowing teachers and students to appreciate the "original flavor" of the Communist Manifesto.
Hartmann was born in Kaiserslautern, Germany in 1966. He studied at the University of Trier, situated in the hometown of Marx, and later received funding from the Chinese government to further his studies at Wuhan University and Henan University. He has both the discipline of the Germans and the hospitality of the Chinese. He speaks fluent Chinese, interspersed with a Shaanxi dialect, and occasionally with Hubei and Henan dialects. Not only has he obtained a teaching qualification for four languages (Chinese, English, German and French), but he is also proficient in Russian, Japanese, Swedish and Esperanto. He often cooks Chinese food, and can make special Shaanxi noodles and even Zongzi (sticky rice dumpling).
By simply listening to his Chinese, without seeing his appearance, the blonde, fair-skinned compatriot of Marx sounds like a Shaanxi native.
Dirk Werner Hartmann is having classes.
In 2011, Hartmann came to Xi'an FanYi University to teach oral and written German language and literature and English related to the computer major. In 2018, he worked on the English translation team of Xi'an bus station names. The teachers he trained in impoverished areas have been recognized as provincial or municipal teaching experts on many occasions, and his students' scores in foreign language exams have broken the district and county's records many times.
Since 2017, as the first foreign cultural and educational expert from a university in Shaanxi province, Hartmann has participated in the provincial cultural and educational assistance activities called "Double-hundred Project." He has visited Guo Town, Chencang District, Baoji City and other places more than 20 times, to lecture at teaching and research seminars and teach English to teachers and students. In the process Hartmann has won great favor among teachers and students, and is affectionately called "Teacher Bethune."
"Language is a key to the heart, to knowledge, to friends, to wealth and to happiness," said Hartmann.
When he first walked into Guo Town Middle School in Baoji City, he soon discovered that most students were from poverty-stricken areas. "The children told me that I was the first foreigner they had ever seen. They asked me 'Can you understand me' in English, and cried with excitement after hearing my answer: 'I can understand you perfectly well.' They had no idea I could speak Chinese at that time, and I also wanted them to communicate in English as much as possible. Last year, I heard from the leaders of Guo Town Middle School that from 2020, the students' English scores in the college entrance examination have generally improved. I am so proud of that."
Dirk Werner Hartmann is interacting with his students in class.(PHOTO:Shi Junbin)
Hartmann also found a way to communicate with the children. "Why would I learn Chinese? Why would children learn English? It's because China is constantly furthering its way of opening-up. In this context, I serve as a messenger of cultural exchanges, with the mission to encourage Chinese children to obtain the knowledge to communicate with the world."
His proudest experience occurred once when he went to North Guangji Street to buy gifts for his friends before returning to Germany. On the stall outside the door of a merchant, there was a note read kheliimasa, and non-local visitors there had no idea what it meant. When Hartmann told them it meant paying for goods without hesitation, the visitors said with a laugh, "It's unbelievable that we are learning Chinese from a foreigner!"
Hartmann has been committed to the poverty alleviation campaign by developing education over the years. He has left his footprints in the Qinba Mountain area of southern Shaanxi, Loess Plateau in northern Shaanxi and Weibei Dryland.
Regarding the honor of receiving the Sanqin Friendship Award, he responded modestly: "I love Chinese culture and Shaanxi province. Although I am fair-skinned and blond, I feel like I am a Shaanxi local. And Shaanxi is my second home. I feel honored to build a bridge of culture and friendship between my first home of Germany and my second home of China!"