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International youth discover the Xinjiang surprise

Updated: 2024-05-08 07:37 ( China Daily )
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Vlasovskiy Artem (right), a 28-year-old Russian student at BFSU, dances with a local man at the Xinjiang International Grand Bazaar in Urumqi, Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, on April 27. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Beijing Foreign Studies University students and faculty explore Xinjiang's diverse culture, modernization, and warm hospitality, sparking newfound appreciation and understanding.

Between April 26 to 30, a group of students and faculty from Beijing Foreign Studies University embarked on a cultural journey to the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region in Northwest China.

The group consisted of 12 international students from various countries such as Russia, Nigeria, Thailand, and Poland, accompanied by eight Chinese teachers representing diverse ethnic backgrounds, including Han, Manchu, Mongolian, and Xibe.

During the five-day trip, the group explored museums and ecological centers showcasing Xinjiang's rich history and natural beauty, attended exhibitions to learn about the region's recent development projects and future urban plans, and interacted with local young people at Xinjiang University in Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang.

"This trip aims to help international students understand both traditional Chinese culture and gain insights into contemporary China," said Yao Jinju, co-organizer and deputy division director of the personnel division at BFSU.

Vlasovskiy Artem, a 28-year-old from Russia, had previously visited Xinjiang in 2019. During his university years, he made friends with several Xinjiang students who were part of exchange programs at his school. They talked about languages, culture, and culinary traditions from their respective homelands.

It was these friends who took him to Xinjiang for the first time. "That journey left me with countless beautiful memories," Artem recalled.

While his first trip focused on appreciating the landscapes, cuisine, and culture of the region alongside his friends, returning for this visit, Artem was amazed by the rapid changes and progress taking place here.

He was particularly impressed by the Urumqi cultural center, which featured six major venues surrounding a central tower, resembling the petals of a blooming snow lotus, a unique flower native to Xinjiang.

Inside these venues, exhibitions were presented digitally, providing visitors with an immersive experience.

"During this visit, I noticed more skyscrapers and digitized museums in Xinjiang, indicating its modernization and technological advancement," Artem said.

Uzodinma Chinenye Gerlof, from Nigeria, shared a similar experience with Artem. He came to China in 2018 to study in East China's Shandong province and later pursued a doctoral program at BFSU, where he developed friendships with several Xinjiang natives.

"We often play soccer together, and they would frequently invite me to dine at Xinjiang restaurants," he said. "In Beijing, I eat Xinjiang-style big plate chicken three to four times a week."

This journey marked Gerlof's first actual visit to the region. Before his trip, the 28-year-old had only seen traditional Xinjiang buildings in Beijing and assumed the entire region followed that architectural style. However, upon arrival, he was surprised by the sight of towering skyscrapers.

"I kept asking our tour guide, 'Are we really in Xinjiang?' because I felt like it was no different from Beijing or Tianjin," he said.

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