Editor’s Note: The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has opened up vast development space for participating nations, facilitating profound growth and development. Young individuals from diverse countries have enhanced their understanding and achieved mutual success and growth through learning from each other. Their contributions demonstrate the vigor of youth in the pursuit of a shared future for mankind. This year marks the 10th anniversary of the BRI. In commemoration of this milestone, Shanghai Jiao Tong University (SJTU) has launched the “Belt and Road Youth Stories” article series, recounting the endeavors of SJTU students in BRI.
This year commemorates the 10th anniversary of the Belt and Road Initiative. Out of the 5,725 volunteers from SJTU at the 6th China International Import Expo (CIIE), 15 are international student volunteers. A significant number of these international volunteers hail from Belt and Road Initiative countries like Uzbekistan, Pakistan, and Malaysia. Fondly referred to as “Little Leaves” because of their association with the clove-shaped image of the National Exhibition and Convention Center, they are becoming an increasingly open and shared platform, welcoming youth from around the world to join in.
Wu Jingyi: Revealing China from the Perspective of an International Student
During the oath-taking ceremony for CIIE volunteers, Wu Jingyi, an international student from the School of Medicine, SJTU, was deeply moved as she watched the Chinese National flag pass around the venue. “This is the first time I have participated in such a large volunteer activity, and I see the youthful passion. This is truly the best way to understand a country’s culture,” she said.
In February of this year, Wu Jingyi arrived at the School of Medicine at SJTU from Malaysia, embarking on her journey as a five-year clinical medicine student. Interestingly, when she was 10 years old, Wu visited the Shanghai World Expo with her family. Returning to Shanghai this year, she noticed the city’s public transportation had become more convenient, and the city’s architecture now displayed even more captivating stories, highlighting the inclusiveness of this international metropolis.
Wu Jingyi first heard about CIIE from her Chinese classmates, prompting her to extensively research news about past CIIEs. This included details about the event’s scale, distinctive exhibits, exchange activities, and the underlying principles. The more she delved into it, the more her fascination grew. She expressed, “If I could become a volunteer at CIIE during my university years, it wouldn’t just be an incredible experience. As an international student, it would also offer a deeper understanding of China and Shanghai, making my study abroad journey even more thrilling.”
Wu Jingyi possesses a unique linguistic advantage. “I’m a Chinese Malaysian, and Malay is my mother tongue, while I frequently use English and Mandarin. If there are guests from Malaysia at the CIIE, I can serve as an on-site interpreter.” Her commitment to thoroughness is equally noteworthy. The oath-taking ceremony marked her first visit to the National Exhibition and Convention Center, and she was initially struck by its immense scale. This prompted her to consider the experience of first-time CIIE attendees. Without guidance, they might become disoriented. Wu explained, “If someone can offer communication and guidance, providing advance information about the unique exhibits in different pavilions, visitors will enjoy a better experience. Before assuming my duties, I will acquaint myself with the venue layout and gather information about special exhibits, enhancing my ability to introduce CIIE to a wider audience.”
This Gen Z enthusiast has a deep passion for volunteer service. During this year’s summer break, Wu postponed her return to Malaysia to participate in a summer volunteer teaching program in Hunan organized by the School of Medicine, SJTU. Here, she engaged with primary and secondary school students in Hunan and observed their fondness for spicy snacks but also their neglect of oral hygiene. Consequently, she prepared a verbal care course to educate them on proper dental care.
Wu also learned that some of her seniors had applied for scholarships related to the BRI to study in China. As a Malaysian youth, Wu is diligently preparing for her role as a volunteer at the CIIE, eager to represent China through the eyes of international students.
Olloyorova Malika: Introducing Uzbekistan via Short Videos
Olloyorova Malika, an international student at SJTU, hails from Uzbekistan. Her connection with China began through an unexpected conversation. Growing up in the Khwarazm region of Uzbekistan, she harbored dreams of studying abroad. Initially, Malika contemplated heading to Europe or Canada, but her family had reservations. It was at this point that a friend of her father’s recommended China. Embracing a try-it-out mindset, Malika embarked on her journey in February 2019, arriving in Shanghai. To her surprise, she felt a sense of familiarity and warmth in this once-foreign land. The winding alleys near Nanjing Road in Shanghai evoked memories of her high school journey back home, and she formed deep friendships with like-minded friends. Malika, who initially came to China, ultimately decided to stay in China.
As for the CIIE, Malika initially had limited knowledge of it. She first learned about the recruitment of volunteers from her teacher. She wondered about the reasons behind China’s hosting of the Expo and the type of products her home country, Uzbekistan, could contribute.
Malika embarked on a quest for knowledge by researching news about previous CIIEs online. She stumbled upon President Xi’s significant speech at the opening ceremony of the first CIIE on November 5, 2018. The speech stressed, “The CIIE, an event to be held on an annual basis, will feature good performance, good results, and continued success in the years to come.” This revelation unveiled the CIIE’s six-year history with substantial support, motivating Malika to join as a volunteer dedicated to serving the attendees.
As a young individual from Uzbekistan, Malika aims to present her country’s image to China and help Chinese people gain a deeper understanding of Uzbekistan. She underscores the two-thousand-year history of interactions between Uzbekistan and China, from the ancient Silk Road to today’s Belt and Road Initiative, illustrating the sustained cooperation and exchanges between the two nations.
In 2022, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Summit was held in Samarkand, Uzbekistan’s second-largest city. Malika conducted street interviews in Shanghai and found that thanks to the summit, many Chinese people had become familiar with and even gained an understanding of Samarkand. This discovery brought her immense joy. She expressed her desire to contribute to the CIIE’s volunteer services and is considering creating an account on a short video platform to introduce Uzbek culture to a broader audience. She eagerly anticipates showcasing items such as handmade plates and carpets from her hometown of Khwarazm, which are highly renowned in Uzbekistan, to her friends in China.
Source: School of Medicine, SJTU
Executive Editor: Jiang Qianqian
Author: Zhou Shengjie, Lin Qianhui
Translated by Lin Yuying
Proofread by Zhao Xiaojing