[Turkmenistan] Astanova Elmira and Kurbanova Govher, Northwestern Polytechnic University
We are from Turkmenistan, a Central Asian country along the Belt and Road. Each of us has a beautiful Chinese name, Li Mina and Fang Jie. By today, we have just been studying in a Chinese university for one whole year. During the past year, we had many heart touching moments and stories, especially in this unforgettable year of 2020.
Becoming online broadcasters.
During the pandemic, students take online courses to continue their study. Online courses kicked off on February 24. It was our first time to take online courses. We never had such experience, and were not sure of the effect. We got the computer and textbook ready. We got up in the morning, read the books, made the preparations before the course started, just as we did in the classroom before. When we completed one day of online courses, we found the effect was rather good. We took down some questions of what we failed to understand, and then asked our teachers afterwards.
Our teachers encouraged us: “Everything is difficult at the beginning. Hang in there, you will gradually get used to it, then it will be easier.” So every day, we studied hard, and we received praises from our teachers. In addition to giving us online courses, they also told us lots of Chinese idiom stories such as“Mr. Fool Moves the Mountain”and “Start Practicing at the First Crow of the Rooster.”Through these stories, we learned Chinese culture and got to know the Chinese mindset.
Although we could not see each other face to face, we were connected via the computer screen and we felt warm and close to each other nevertheless. However for students stranded in their home countries, the online courses were a challenge. The internet conditions in Turkmenistan lag behind China, and there is time zone difference as well.
So the online courses did not have the same good effect as in China. Encouraged by our teachers, we became online broadcasters. Every day, we digested the courses and took the notes and then we live-broadcast to classmates in our country. We also sent reference books and homework assignments to them. Thus we “acquired” and then “spoke out” the knowledge. On the one hand we digested the knowledge and enhanced our study effect; On the other hand, we helped others. We became “messengers” to pass on knowledge and spirit. Currently every day there are around 50 students all over the world tuning in to take our online courses. We have literally become online broadcasters bringing the world together.
As volunteers, we sing the song of China to the world.
We found a most meaningful thing during the pandemic was our new roles as volunteers on campus. When the university was shut down due to safety concerns, international students could not go out for shopping. Apartment janitors were not allowed to work on campus. So we voluntarily set up a “Volunteers Team” which consisted of more than 30 students from over 10 countries.
We purchased daily necessities for our peers, maintained and clean the public spaces in the capacity of the apartment janitors, and helped teachers with their anti-virus self protection publicity. Although we felt lonely and scared during the period, we were confident that China would finally surmount the pandemic. At the end of January, we wrote down our inner wishes for all Chinese people.
On Lantern Festival, we recorded a Chinese seasonal greeting video to extend our hope for a happy reunion of all Northwestern Polytechnic University students. In March, we learned a Chinese song Great China, the song that sings out the great power of China and its unwavering spirit of perseverance and hard work. As the powerful lyric goes, “Braving all storms, we will always protect her… Bless you, China! You are always in my heart. Bless you, China! My blessing is more than tens of thousands of words.”We believe this song reflects the China spirit and Chinese people’s mentality and determination.
We will learn more Chinese songs and bring them to my home country and sing them all over the world. We are now learning the song Dare to Ask Where is the Road, the ending song of the blockbuster Chinese TV series Journey to the West. And we are eager to present it to our friends and teachers.
As an old Chinese proverb says, “one cannot travel 1,000 miles without taking a succession of solid steps, like a broad river cannot take shape without admitting numerous small streams.” This one year experience in China has made us grow and given us touching enlightenments. We are now gradually accustomed to life here and the Chinese mindset. However there is a long way ahead for us. We have bigger and farther dreams to pursue and we are ready to embrace a hopeful tomorrow.
The story is from "My Beautiful Encounter with China" Essay Competition organized by the Chinese Service Center for Scholarly Exchanges (CSCSE).