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Seeking knowledge unto China

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By Noureldin Mohamed Abdelaal Ahmed Mohamed | | Updated: Feb 16, 2022

[Egypt] Noureldin Mohamed Abdelaal Ahmed Mohamed, Beijing Institute of Technology

Noureldin Mohamed Abdelaal Ahmed Mohamed in Hunan [Photo provided to]

In my memory, China has been a distant yet familiar place. Far away is China on the other side of the world, 8, 000 kilometers away from Egypt; where my father had been on frequent business trips after which he would bring back a few but memorable presents that would also shape my childhood and accompany my growth. China has always seemed like a movie with a changing scene to me.And I dream of one day taking up a big role in this movie.

Finally, there came the opportunity! In 2015, I won theWorld Mathematical Olympiad and a computer programming competition, therefore being admitted to the University of Cambridge as a master’s and doctoral student. But at that time, I was uncertain where to study for my bachelor degree. My father saw what had been bothering me, and one day suddenly asked me: “China is a great country. Do you want to study there?” “Really? I must be dreaming!” I asked in surprise. Never before had I expected my dream to come true!

The Koran says, “Seek knowledge, even unto China. ” I began to study computer programming on my own at the age of 4, and dreamed that I could go to Beijing Institute of Technology to study computer science. This was a completely stroke of luck. On the other hand, Egypt has a unique geographical advantage—the western end of the Belt and Road. Moreover, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi is an important supporter and participant in the construction of the Belt and Road Initiative.

Noureldin Mohamed Abdelaal Ahmed Mohamed attends the International Cultural Festival in Beijing Institute of Technology. [Photo provided to]

It is he who encourages us to go to China for broader horizons.

As soon as I arrived in Beijing, I felt the strong Chinese culture that my father used to talk about. Instead of strangeness, there was a kind of joy. More amazingly, I took a high-speed train in China, used Alipay, shopped online, and rode sharing bikes. Such inventions are completely new to me and provide a lot of convenience to my life. I cannot help but wonder how innovative the Chinese are.

After a year of learning Chinese, I have found it increasingly difficult to leave. China keeps surprising and touching me. My teachers have not only helped me with my study, but also cared for me like my family.This is my second home where teachers are like my parents and classmates are like my brothers and sisters. Although we come from different countries, we love China and each other.

In addition, the experience of learning Chinese also enables me to see the world from different perspectives, and at the same time, draws me closer to the Chinese people and to understand their lives. I still remember my listening to Peking Opera for the first time. This kind of art had been so mysterious to me — the characters were elegantly dressed and their voices were as beautiful as those of the birds in the woods.

I could not take my eyes off any of their expressions and movements. In addition, Laoshe Tea House also showed me the quiet, peaceful and “down-to-earth” lifestyle of the Chinese people. Friends get together and chat, drink a cup of scented tea and see a drama. They leave the troubles and pressures in life behind just for the ease and happiness of that moment.

Noureldin Mohamed Abdelaal Ahmed Mohamed in Tianjin [Photo provided to]

These elements of Chinese culture have had a profound impact on me, not only affecting my way of thinking, but also making my life in Beijing more interesting. I have been seizing every minute to see this city and this country.

From one ancient civilization to another, from the pyramids to the Great Wall, from the Nile to the Yangtze River and Yellow River, I am not lonely at all but full of positive energy during my “traveling east” days. I love China, I love her ancient culture, I love her long history, I love her kind people, and I love the surprises brought by her rapid development. Now, I have really become a character in this “movie” and connected with this country in many aspects. I hope our movie will be a pleasing comedy without ending.

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