[Kazakhstan]Netaliyeva Dana, South China University of Technology
It has been three years since I began my study as an international student at South China University of Technology in Guangzhou. I still remember my mingled feelings when I first set foot on the land of China – curious, nervous and excited. What the experiences of studying abroad has brought to me is the joy I have never had before, refreshing but challenging. Here, my dream sets sail.
BRI Helps Me Set Sail
The deep friendship between Kazakhstan and China can be traced back to the Middle Ages. On the one hand, many ancient cities of Kazakhstan, as strategic spots, played key roles in promoting the friendly relations as well as the economic and cultural exchanges between China and European countries. On the other hand, the ancient Silk Road was important for the development of infrastructure and urbanization in Kazakhstan.
The China-Kazakhstan friendship is being continued and enhanced. The bilateral friendly relationship in political, economic and cultural fields have achieved marked progress since the establishment of diplomatic relations of the two countries in 1992. The thriving developments driven by the long-term cooperation have been witnessed.
In 2013, Chinese President Xi Jinping during his visit to Kazakhstan, first proposed the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which pursues a mutual beneficial open economy. Kazakhstan, as the world’s largest landlocked country, plays an essential role for the BRI cooperation in breaking the bottleneck of regional economic development.
The deepening and expanding of the educational cooperation and exchanges have been paid special attention by the two countries during the collaborative work in BRI. By sponsoring students and scholars to study and conduct research abroad, a new trend of studying overseas has been promoted.
The great importance given to education has significantly helped with the two countries’ understanding, friendship and communications in other fields. In this context, the increase in international students from Kazakhstan to China accelerates every year. Many young people with great aspiration, including myself, have been offered valuable opportunities to study in China. It will definitely bring me a bright future, I believe. My dream sets sail with the help of the BRI, and my life has proceeded to a new stage.
Setting Sail and Study in China
In the seemingly ordinary daily life during my study in Guangzhou, I immersed myself in the profound Chinese culture, made close friends and enjoyed the home-like warmth. The voyage of my dream pursuing was fully prepared.
My Chinese name with meanings from Chinese culture. A good Chinese name is important for my study in China. I have watched many Chinese TV series before coming to China and my favourate one is Love O2O. The heroine is Bei Weiwei, a beautiful girl who is hardworking, morally excellent, sincere and always ready to help others. She never gives up, no matter what difficulties she encounters, and always moves forward courageously.
She is my role model and her name “Weiwei” (微微, which means mild and is often associated with smile) popped up immediately when I was thinking about my Chinese name. So I chose “Wei Wei” (蔚为, which means magnificent and splendid) with the same pronunciation as my Chinese name. My teacher first felt that those two Chinese characters were not very suitable to be used together as a person’s name, but he was persuaded by my explanation and was surprised by my passion and understanding of Chinese culture. From then on, there has been an international student in our university called Wei Wei.
The journey of life is like a voyage, full of challenges and opportunities. I hope that the ship “Wei Wei” that has just sailed will meet splendid sceneries as what its name means. I have obtained deeper understanding of my Chinese name during my three-year study in China. I am clear that a name with good meaning does not indicate my excellence, so I am making effort every day to be better. There will be someday, I believe, that the ship of my life will sail towards a bright future.
My enjoyment of the home-like warmth in a foreign country. My acquaintance with China began with my interest in Chinese history. My first impression of China, “a rising economic power,” led to a perception about the Chinese people. That is, the economic development receives more emphasis than emotional connections. However, one of my experiences during my stay in China made me see this country from a different perspective.
I have been confronted with several difficulties ever. I would like to share one of them here. There was a period of time when Kazakhstan was in a deteriorating situation. Once, on the subway, I was unable to restrain myself from tears. My mood of sorrow was noticed by a lady, who came over and patted me gently.
Without saying a word, she held my hands in hers tightly and looked at me firmly with a smile. I felt warm and comfortable. It was so unexpected that there could be someone in China, thousands of miles from my home, provided me with a mental shelter that I could only receive from my family and my relatives. What a happiness I enjoyed the home-like warmth in China!
Friendship, by serendipity or by fate? Friendship, the pure melody and the incomparably beautiful hymn of life, makes youth colourful. A true friend is like a candle which light you up without hesitation to burn itself – I have incredibly met this kind of friend during my three years study in China.
Eyes can reveal one’s soul – I can see her gentleness, kindness and caring from her bright dark green eyes. Believing in that there is no perfect one, she not only appreciates others’ advantages but also accept their shortcomings. We became good friends despite the differences in personality.
I am very grateful for her patience for my stubbornness and irritableness, and I am willing to be a good listener of hers of course when she feels sad and a confidant to whom she can pour out all her troubles. Supporting and encouraging each other during the study, we overcame difficulties together and made efforts to stay positive.
We both came from Kazakhstan but met in Guangzhou – was it a coincidence or a fate? I do not know. But I am sure that I will be able to keep going as I am with the support of such faithful friends like her.
Treasure every moment of your youth. The sunset in Guangzhou is bewitching and impressive, from which I have obtained endless inspiration. I like to go the city centre at dusk – walking on the streets with dazzling neon lights and appreciating the special atmosphere of the city. This is the time that I take enjoyment of my youth. Although it takes me much time to travel between the University City and the city centre, I feel excited and energized.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we are not able to return to China, to feel her and to embrace her, but everything I had experienced during my study in China has become sweet memories which will never fades away. They will be cherished forever. As time goes, China is more important to me. The invaluable experience of my stay in China has provided me with an opportunity to re-examine my values and outlook on life and made significant change of my mind.
There are so many people to whom I would like to express my deepest gratefulness. I will appreciate the dedication of the Chinese teachers, the influence of Chinese culture, the home-like warmth I felt in China, as well as the friendship I have obtained here.
All these invaluable experiences and gains will be the source and motivation for me to keep striving. COVID-19 pandemic is a challenge for all mankind, and I believe that we will win the final victory with our persistent efforts, because dark night will always be followed by the dawn. I hope there will be an opportunity for me to come back to China before my graduation and to obtain more nutrients and energy for the ship of “Wei Wei”!
The story is from "My Beautiful Encounter with China" Essay Competition organized by the Chinese Service Center for Scholarly Exchanges (CSCSE).