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Curro Mandarin learner talks to spaceborne Chinese astronauts

Dhiasha Naidoo, a Grade 11 learner from Curro Waterfall, still has her head in the clouds after being the only South African learner chosen to cross live to space and interview a 14-man crew of spaceborne Chinese astronauts currently in the Tiangong Space Station. On Tuesday, 6 September 2022, Dhiasha, supported by her fellow Mandarin Club members, travelled to the Chinese Embassy in Pretoria for the discussion.

Dhiasha was the only South African learner asking questions with other queries coming from youth in Algeria, Egypt, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Senegal, and Somalia. Some of the questions Dhiasha asked the astronauts included how long it took them to reach space from earth, whether they ever get sick in space and how they cope with being apart from their loved ones.

Dhiasha Naidoo (front) with her Manderin Club classmates at the live crossing event

This fabulous opportunity has mushroomed thanks to a small but very popular Mandarin (Chinese) club. Over the last three years, learners like Dhiasha have been able to take up the international language as an extramural and their Mandarin teacher collaborated with the South African Director of CCIEEC, Dr Zhilei Lu and Chinese Director, Prof (Jessica) Wenhong Dai which is where the relationship with the CCIEEC began.


‘It is wonderful to see our learners being given the chance to experience this amazing, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. It goes to show how important non-curricular learning is to the development of a learner. After all, not everyone can say they have spoken to an astronaut, let alone one live from space and I hope this experience fuels a much-needed desire for our learners to continue exploring domestic space travel,’ explains Camilla Pretorius, Head of High School at Curro Waterfall.