“I’ve had so many ‘firsts’ at Peking University and in China.” Recalling his four years at Peking University, the former Maltese ambassador to China, Klif, who came all the way from the Mediterranean, is proud and proud. He spent his youth in Peking University, which was full of the characteristics of the Chinese times.
Since entering Peking University in 1978, Ke Lifu has witnessed the first issuance of double certificates of academic qualifications and degrees after China’s reform and opening up, the first implementation of credit system, the first free market, the first private restaurant… “I also have the first bicycle racing car in Beijing that can shift gears.” The times were surging, and Yan Garden was in a hurry for four years. The story of Ke Li Fu in Peking University also marked the unique mark of that era.
“The Essence of Revolution”
In 1978, the year after China reinstated the gaokao, Mr. Klifu arrived at Peking University and was placed in Building 26, near the university’s south gate.
Here, Ke Li Fu met students from all over the world, all nationalities. The classmate who brewed coffee over the electric stove in the next dorm has 13 passports and used to be a professional killer. The student who invited him for tea was a PLO member with a rifle; With the mentality of “exploiting” the Americans, the students sold a second-hand bicycle bought for 30 yuan for 150 yuan to a new American student… In the communication with foreign students from all over the world, Klifu has made many good friends.
“I always thought Peking University was a peaceful place with only Weiming Lake, libraries, professors and students, but I didn’t expect to encounter such people and things.” “It also gave me a real sense of the all-inclusive nature of Peking University, which is a special lesson for me to learn,” said Ke.
At Peking University, Keli Fu insisted on his “revolutionary qualities”. When he first arrived at Peking University, Kellifu was reluctant to eat in the special canteen for foreign students, so he argued with the university for the chance to eat with Chinese students. Klif communicated with the school that eating with Chinese students helps foreign students learn Chinese. Eating in different canisters is actually encouraging inequality. Eventually, the school was convinced by Kliff, who bought a meal ticket for the Chinese students’ dining hall.
“It’s a pink, thin piece of paper that melts if you hold it and your hand gets sweaty.” Klifu treasured the hard-won meal tickets.
Even though the standard of food in the Chinese cafeterias is much worse than in the international dining halls, with few meat dishes and little teeth-crushing rocks in the rice, Mr. Kluff is willing to eat with Chinese students. To get better food in the Chinese cafeteria, Mr. Kali joined the Peking University track and field team and put the shot. The daily physical training also let Kelf gradually obsessed with the shot put sport.
Every day of the week, except at school, Klif has his own schedule. Monday is “Teahouse Day”, Tuesday is “Boss House Day”, Thursday is “Drama Day”… Mr. Klifu and his classmates try a new restaurant each week, methodically schedule Chinese baijiu tasting, and maintain a unique habit of taking a bath at the off-campus Haidian Lake.
Four or five times a week Clifford bathed in the great bathhouse. Listening to Peking Opera, storytelling and chatting with Beijing elders in the big bathhouse is one of the ways for Ke Li Fu to keep in close contact with society.
“As soon as we went into the bathroom, people would joke and say, ‘Yo, you’re cooking foreign meat!'” In Klifu’s opinion, the old men in Beijing are very talkative and humorous, and have never been treated differently because Klifu is a foreigner. “That’s what I like about old Beijing, how confident they are: this is our place, we’re happy, why change your behavior for a foreigner?”
Under the influence of the old man in Beijing, Kelf became more and more interested in the theater. Peking Opera, Hebei Wooden Clappers, Pingju Opera, Sichuan Opera… Clifford went to the theatre at least twice a week. The Lucky Theatre in Goldfish Lane and the old theatres were his frequent visits.
Rich extra-curricular life has become an important part of Kelf’s study in China. “To be honest, it was a lot more fun than classes. It was a learning process, and I learned a lot that I still use today.” “Said Clifford.
Pick out the problem at a glance
When Klif enrolled in the Chinese department at Peking University, China was still in a state of disrepair.
It was just after the Cultural Revolution and everything was under construction. Except for Soviet-style textbooks, the school has no formal textbooks. The only textbooks are handwritten and mimeographed by teachers on gray, low-quality paper. Books on linguistics and western literature are forbidden to be borrowed from the library. The whole of China is still in a conservative and dull cultural atmosphere.
His Chinese teacher, however, opened a window for him to open his mind. In class, teachers will interpret their own translations of foreign papers and analyze the latest linguistic research in foreign countries.
Lu Jianming, who was only in his 30s at the time, taught Klifu Chinese Grammar. His analytical methods of grammar, though still controversial in academic circles at the time, benefited Klifu all his life. After that, whether he was a diplomat writing diplomatic documents or a lawyer drafting contracts, he always used Lu Jianming’s method of grammar analysis when he encountered Chinese writing problems at work.
“At my firm, I still edit the contracts and pleadings written by young Chinese lawyers word by word, and I can pick out their language problems from long, complex sentences in legal documents.” “To tell you the truth, I’m a little tiresomely picky.”
In Fu Min’s “Chinese as a Foreign Language” class, Kellifu learned authentic Chinese and read authentic Chinese literature. The vernacular, ancient Chinese, Qing Dynasty, Ming Dynasty, novel excerptions and so on, including the Romance of the Three Kingdoms, Water Margin and Lao She’s drama, these flesh-and-blood literary works, both take into account the foreign students’ language level, but also show the real charm of the Chinese world to the foreign students.
“Miss Fu is very passionate and creative in class. She understands the needs and characteristics of our international students.” Klifu regards Fu Min as one of his most influential teachers.
During his four years at Peking University, he changed his major from Chinese language to Chinese literature. “Make good use of the four years, study hard and master knowledge” is his constant belief. No matter how cold it was outside and how dark it was, Clifford kept going to his 7:30 a.m. class. With his excellent memory ability, he can often recite and review before exams, catch up with Chinese students and get good grades.
“In one ‘Folk Literature’ class, the teacher specifically criticized the Chinese students, saying, ‘Look, the foreign students did better than you.'” Klif said that although he didn’t like his teacher to say so, his hard work has really paid off.
When he graduated, he became one of the first graduates to receive a diploma and degree after China’s reform and opening up. “My diploma number is’ graduate number 8200001, number one in 1982!” The memory of Klifu is still fresh.
The wedding date set by Peking University
“Peking University is a great place for romance, and Weiming Lake is a romantic place.” Recalling his romantic love in Peking University, Ke Li Fu is full of praise.
In January 1981, Klif met an American student who had come to China as an exchange student from Canada’s McGill University in Yanyuan, and the spark of love quickly erupted between the two. In May, Ke Li Fu, who was still a student at Peking University, married her.
College students were not allowed to get married at Peking University at that time, and Ke had to go through some twists and turns in order to make his international romance work. As the international students’ office held one meeting after another to prepare for his marriage, Klif asked a friend to go through the complicated marriage formalities in Malta. After nearly three months of handling the certificates, one day, a teacher from the International Student Office came to Ke Li Fu and said, “You can register with Haidian People’s Government on May 11th, and bring all the documents, passports and student cards.
In this way, the 24-year-old Klif completed his first marriage registration. Their marriage certificate reads “frugality, family planning” in large characters, and the picture on the right shows a locomotive, a rocket, an atomic bomb and a large mushroom cloud. The whole wedding cost only sixty cents.
At Peking University, Ke participated in the university’s first ball after the reform and opening up. He experienced the change from a conservative atmosphere of “boys and boys, girls and girls” to a “real” dance with openness and diversity. In Peking University, Ke Li Fu experienced the bookstore from only Lu Xun’s works, to “banned books” have been published again to the light. At Peking University, Ke Li Fu experienced the joy expressed by everyone when they read the news of the Third Plenary Session of the 11th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China in People’s Daily.
Peking University gave Ke Lifu many “firsts” in his young years, which marked his time, and also left an indelible mark of Peking University in his long life after that.
“Peking University is like this. People of all kinds can be accepted and tolerated here. I have met a lot of people and enjoyed this kind of contact. The education at Peking University has left a deep impression on my life.” “Said Clifford.