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

Grade 11 learner Dhiasha Naidoo is part of her school’s Mandarin club, and she got the opportunity to chat with the Taikonauts who are up in space at the moment.


Johannesburg, South Africa (07 September 2022) – Dhaisha Naidoo was one of a select group of students from throughout Africa that were invited to speak to a team of Chinese astronauts, also known as Taikonauts, who are currently up in space.

Dhaisha is a grade 11 learner from Curro Waterfall, in Midrand Johannesburg and she is part of the Mandarin Club at her school. She was selected by the Confucius Classroom at Chinese Culture and International Education Exchange Centre (CCIEEC) to participate in a discussion on heaven and earth. Joined by her fellow club members, they visited the Chinese Embassy in Pretoria yesterday, the 6th of September 2022, to have a conversation.

The Mandarin Club classmates submitted questions and videos for the Taikonauts in July this year, and many of her school friends watched as she undertook the live broadcast to Tiangong Space Station and spoke directly to the 14-man crew.

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, if they ever get sick in space and how they cope with being apart from their loved ones.

The Mandarin club is very popular at the school and over the last three years, learners like Dhiasha have been able to take up the international language as an extramural.  Their Mandarin teacher collaborated with the South African Director of CCIEEC, Dr Zhilei Lu and the 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.

Sources: Supplied
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Tyler Leigh Vivier is a writer for Good Things Guy.

Her passion is to spread good news across South Africa with a big focus on environmental issues, animal welfare and social upliftment. Outside of Good Things Guy, she is an avid reader and lover of tea.

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