Across China: Int'l students from SCO member states go deep into China's rural areas

Culture 9

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XI'AN, Sept. 16 (Xinhua) -- Zhannur Niyazbekova obtained her doctorate from the Northwest A&F University (NWAFU) this summer. She decided to remain at the university in northwest China's Shaanxi Province to undertake postdoctoral research.

Hailing from Kazakhstan, the young woman said she would visit her Chinese "grandmother" Zhang Kaizhi in Zhenba County from time to time.

Niyazbekova and Zhang met each other during a practical activity at the university. Niyazbekova now refers to the Chinese woman as "Grandma," who she said is always reminiscent of her own grandmother back at home.

"My Chinese grandmother works for a sheep farm. She contacts me when she has problems with the sheep. Sometimes, I remind her and the villagers to take good care of the sanitation of the sheep pens to prevent diseases," Niyazbekova said.

Niyazbekova is among more than 600 students from Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) member states who have studied at NWAFU since 2007. These international students have not only acquired knowledge in their classrooms, but have also learned from the grassroots organizations they have visited across the province -- from Yan'an, a former revolutionary base of the Communist Party of China, to farmlands and farmers' homes.

Niyazbekova said she hopes to promote the friendship between China and her motherland, and contribute to the common development of the two countries with what she had learned in China.

Last year, a rural revitalization supporting group of international students was established at NWAFU. Pakistani student Mansoor Ahmed Koondar is the head of the group.

Koondar previously taught English in Heyang County, where he won praise from local teachers and students.

"Students here have improved in their English language. What's more important is that they are no longer shy, and are eager to acquire new knowledge and explore the outside world," he said.

Koondar has witnessed the huge changes in China's rural areas, thanks to the country's rural revitalization strategy.

"I would like to contribute to the development of rural education in my country in the future," he added.

For students from SCO member states who cannot travel to China due to the COVID-19 pandemic, NWAFU has offered online courses and opened overseas agricultural science and technology demonstration parks.

In 2021, NWAFU joined hands with 19 universities from eight SCO member states to launch the SCO Agricultural Universities Alliance.

"The university will give full play to China's advantages in agriculture and agricultural higher education, and strengthen exchanges and cooperation with SCO member states in the field," said Wu Pute, president of NWAFU. ■

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