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My heroic dream

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By Nusrat Qudrat | | Updated: Feb 17, 2022

[Afghanistan] Nusrat Qudrat, China University of Geosciences (Wuhan)

Nusrat Qudrat [Photo provided to]

Unlike most children in the world, I was born in a war-torn country. From childhood to adulthood, I have always had a dream – to see a peaceful, secure and developed Afghanistan. In the midst of the war, the seeds of studying abroad were secretly planted in my heart, I wanted to see the bigger world outside and feel the charm of the culture beyond the swords and spears. And I wanted to be a hero in the chaos, so that everything around me could be better.

In 2016, I was given the opportunity to make my dream come true in China. My first stop was the glamorous city of Shanghai! I fell even more madly in love with Chinese culture during my year of preparatory studies at Tongji University. At that time, language learning was intense and extracurricular life was filled with all kinds of Chinese novels. It was then that I became obsessed with Mr. Jin Yong's martial arts novels and the heroes of his novels.

Yang Kang was one of the first fictional characters I came across, so I duly gave myself a Chinese name - Yang Kang. Later on, as my Chinese improved and my understanding of the novel grew, I loved the chivalrous Yang Guo even more than Yang Kang. But after all, people are used to call me Yang Kang, so I'll reluctantly continue to be the "father of heroes".

In September 2017, I entered China University of Geosciences (Wuhan) majoring in the civil engineering.

The study on my major really opens my eyes. Engineering technology of China is amazing. China is especially good at the road and bridge projects, which are the best in the world. The science and technology level of China is already at the top of the world. I am determined to study hard and bring advanced technology to my country so that more people can benefit from it.

Although my undergraduate schedule is very full, I still make time to study Chinese on my own and get close to Chinese culture. I took a lot of traditional Chinese culture classes, Chinese calligraphy, Chinese painting, seal carving and more. I joined the school's dragon dance team and participated in a dragon dance competition of China. With the cooperation of the Chinese and international students, the feeling of the dragon soaring and jumping in our hands was so cool!

A beautiful encounter with Chinese culture excitated my love for China and its people. In the past four years, I have been taking the "fast and accurate" high-speed train, enjoying the beauty of China's rivers and mountains, getting to know many of Chinese buddies and gaining a deep respect for this civilization that has been passed down for 5,000 years.

Nusrat Qudrat at China University of Geosciences (Wuhan) [Photo provided to]

The beginning of 2020 is also the start of my 24-year-old life. According to Chinese custom, this is my "year of fate". As soon as the winter holidays started, I set up a “travel plan of year of fate” for myself to learn more about the scenery, people and geography of China before I graduate.

On January 20, I began my trip to Shanghai with two other fellow countrymen who were also international students studying in colleges and universities of Wuhan. Our first stop was at my alma mater, Tongji University. We had planned to travel to Hangzhou and Chongqing after Shanghai to experience the excitement of Chinese New Year in depth, but a sudden epidemic disrupted all.

On January 22, my friends and I were getting ready to rest at 11:00 pm in our hotel when I suddenly noticed the news that Wuhan would be closed the next day.That's when I realized the seriousness of the " pneumonia of unknown cause" that had been on the news. We were outside of Wuhan and relatively safe, so my fellow compatriots and friends urged me to go straight home with them. But I made a decision that made them very surprised. I would go back to Wuhan!

I knew that this was a difficult and critical time for Wuhan. As one who grew up in a war-torn land, as one who did not fear death and vowed to be with my friends, how could I go alone when my teachers and classmates were suffering? No! I want to stay in Wuhan! Side by side with everyone! I want to do my part to help Wuhan fight the epidemic! After discussing with my two compatriots, they confirmed my idea and we immediately booked tickets for the next day's high speed train back to Wuhan.

Back at the school, the city, the school and the building were all closed. Strict measures followed step by step. Four hundred international students of the school were suddenly in a panic. Teachers of the school and colleges stood forward to divide the students into different groups for corresponding management at this critical moment, caring our lives and learning all the time. I couldn't stay idle either and tried to contact my fellow students and relevant organizations that I could work together with to fight the epidemic.

On January 25, under the call of Da Ming, an international student from Benin, the international students in our school set up a volunteer service team known as “Iron Man”. Under the guidance of the school authorities and teachers, it provided services and assistance to 437 international students who stayed on campus.When I learned this news, I was so excited that I immediately signed up to join the “Iron Man” volunteer team. At that time, I didn't know what I could do, but I knew I had to do something.

The campus of China University of Geosciences (Wuhan) [Photo provided to]

Day after day, we gradually found the direction and motivation. Although it may seem not to be a big deal to provide support and help them with their daily lives for international students, we have contributed all our courage and strength in this difficult time. Sometimes, when my voluntary service was not understood by everyone and there were some small conflicts, I also felt aggrieved and sad. Underneath the layers of stuffy protective clothing, in addition to the sweat in the harsh winter of Wuhan, there are traces of my hidden tears.

It is gratifying that, with the joint efforts of everyone, Wuhan is once again welcoming a warm spring. Our efforts have not been in vain. There hasn't been a single case of infection among international students throughout the school. Everyone was healthy and happy to see theYellow Crane Tower light up again! As for me, at the moment I took off my protective suit and goggles, I felt the strength that courage and responsibility empowered me.

Later, reporters interviewed us and the students called us "heroes" when meeting us.What? Is this the "hero" I've been dreaming of? The role I had hoped to become so many times, the sentiment I had held on to for so long, have all come true at this moment!

But what are these trifle things I did compared to the people around me? Heroic medics on the front lines built a healthy first-line with their bodies. The brave and fearless heroic people of Wuhan had allowed themselves to be "trapped" in this heroic city. The heroic Chinese government and people, while fighting the epidemic themselves, also lend a helping hand to the world. My country has been given a large number of medical supplies from China......

Never forget why you started, and your mission can be accomplished. I came here with a dream of being a hero, and will continue to fulfill my hero's dream along the "the Belt and Road".

The story is from "My Beautiful Encounter with China" Essay Competition organized by the Chinese Service Center for Scholarly Exchanges (CSCSE).