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I planted myself in the East

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By Kucukagtas Bayram | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: Feb 11, 2022

[Turkey] Kucukagtas Bayram, Xi’an International Studies University

Kucukagtas Bayram [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]

Fourteen years have passed since I came to China from Turkey. During these years, I grew up to be a Turkish teacher from a young student. Recalling my life in China and my stories in Xi’an International Studies University, I have a lot to say. The longer I stay here, the deeper I love it.

China has been my second hometown. I have heard such a saying: “The hometown cannot settle down your body and the other places cannot settle down your soul.” To this, I cannot agree. China is foreign land for me, but it has well placed both my body and soul, making me feel at home.

The plants and trees,the local customs and hospitable people are all the reasons why I am deeply rooted here. There are so many precious and indelible memories.

Having studied in the Xi’an International Studies University for six years, I became a teacher after graduating with a master degree. I had been called “Xiao Bai” (Little Bai) by my teachers and now I am Teacher Bai in the eyes of my students. Time flies. Eight years passed since I became a teacher.

The campus of Xi’an International Studies University [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]

A Chinese saying goes, “It takes 10 years to grow a tree but 100 to cultivate a person.” My little saplings (students) are now in full bloom, which is my proudest fulfillment. I am relatively strict in the classes. The students are in awe of me and sometimes even a little afraid of me. However, they are clear that I am responsible for them by being harsh. Outside classes, the atmosphere differs.

I try my best to treat the students as equals, to tap their potential and cultivate their interests. We eat mutton soup with bread together and go on a picnic at the end of the term. I also invite students to my home, cooking Chinese food and Turkish dessert together, and exchanging opinions on Chinese and Turkish culture.

The students of each session are more like my friends and family members. The earliest graduates have left school for four years, but I still keep contacts with them. I try to learn their latest work, who has found their love and who meet troubles and need help. They are just like my children and I still care about them even if they are independent in the society.

The campus of Xi’an International Studies University [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]

It is the people and the things that are truly rooted in my spiritual world, that have fused my blood and flesh into this land. Being a teacher is my first job in this new city and country. This job brings me warmth and motivates me to stay here for a long time.

From the beginning when I was nervous in the class to now when I teach them with ease and proficiency; From the beginning when I tried to build trust with students with great care to now when I teach them with enthusiasm, I devote myself to teaching with sweat and tears.

The rolling towers and familiar faces in this city seem to have been planted in my world and imprinted in my mind, which I am far more familiar with than my hometown.

After getting married in 2013, I brought my wife, Bai Ruoxuan to China. In 2016 our son Xiao Xiao Bai (Junior Xiao Bai) was born here. Somehow, I will never separate with this country and this city. Here is my second country and second hometown.

My whole youth, my family, my friends and everything of me are planted here. This land bestows me with the feeling of homeland which I am unwilling to leave. Such feeling has nothing to do with identity and national boundaries.

I have been living here for 14 years and will carry on teaching on the platform I love. The longer I stay, the deeper my root goes. I have been travelling to many places in China, big and small. Xi’an is the city where I have lived for more than 10 years. It seems that I have become a typical Xi’an person by absorbing the culture aura of the city.I know more or less about various scenic spots, food and snacks, as well as bus routes, dialects and customs in Xi'an. This understanding helps me truly perceive the charm of local culture and would like to share with more people so that they can see and experience.

The campus of Xi’an International Studies University [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]

The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has made me more aware of the power of China as a strong nation with deep love and responsibility for its people.

It has also made me realize that I regard myself as a Chinese, who tracks the news every day and understands what is happening. I laugh with the Chinese people, cry with them, worry with them and feel proud with them.

I also received care of many friends and students with feeling of warmth. No matter what takes place in the future and no matter I leave or not, I appreciate all what I have here.

All what I cherish will be in my bones and blood. China, that I deeply love and am willing to commend to the whole world, is my second hometown where I contribute myself. It is an obvious fact that I love this land from the heart and no proof is needed.

Planting myself in this land, I grow happily with bathing of affection.

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