Beninese teacher Maurice Gountin spent 10 years in China mastering the Chinese languageÂ andÂ he became a TV starÂ there, but he gave it all up to return to his native Benin.
Gountin now teaches ChineseÂ at Beninâ€™sÂ Confucius Institute of UniversitĂ© dâ€™Abomey-calavi and at the Chinese Cultural Center in Benin, according to his LinkedIn page.
He looks back at his years in China as â€śthe most gloriousâ€ť in his life, he toldÂ ShanghaiDaily.
While he was in China, Gountin became interested inÂ crosstalk, a traditional Chinese comic routineÂ usually done in the form of a dialogue between two performers.
Chinese isÂ rich in puns and allusions, and crosstalk is delivered in a rapid, bantering style. Itâ€™sÂ one of Chinaâ€™s most popular performing arts. Canadian crosstalk comedian Dashan (Mark Rowswell) says the closest equivalent in English would be Abbott and Costelloâ€™s â€śWhoâ€™s on First?â€ť sketch, according to Wikipedia.
GountinÂ said he studied the traditional Chinese art purely out of interest andÂ neverÂ expected to become aÂ star. He wasÂ popular withÂ at least 300 million Chinese TV viewers, according to ShanghaiDaily.
Gountin went toÂ China in 1998 and studied Chinese language and culture at Renmin University. He earnedÂ a doctorate from the universityÂ and fell in love with traditional Chinese folk arts. Cross talk and Beijing opera were among his favorites.
In 2000, Gountin and one of his classmates prformed crosstalk at a party held for foreign students in BeijingÂ and hisÂ talent impressed Ding Guangquan, a famous Chinese crosstalk artistÂ whoÂ offered to teach him.
Gountin gained popularity as a crosstalk starÂ butÂ eventually returnedÂ home to Cotonou in 2008 due to â€śpersonal reasons and homesickness.â€ť
He doesnâ€™t regret returning to Benin and hisÂ job teaching Chinese isÂ aÂ bridge between the two cultures, he said.
One of lessons he said he learned in ChinaÂ was the value of patriotism, lovingÂ oneâ€™s own culture, and a good plan for life.
â€śChinese people do not expect miracles from heaven,â€ť Gountin said. â€śThey are forewarned persons and they make predictions for the future.â€ť
Gountin said he hopes to play a largerÂ role in China-Africa relations through the publication of his research results working with youth.
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