Uygur stu­dent looks to be an an­chor­woman

China Daily (Canada) - - XINJIANG - By Gao Bo in Beijing gaobo@chi­nadaily.com.cn

In the nearly two years she has spent in Beijing, Yi­he­bale Il­ham has had most of her clothes bought for her in her home­town in the Xin­jiang Uygur au­ton­o­mous re­gion and mailed to the cap­i­tal, as she didn’t want to waste even a mo­ment on shop­ping.

Yi­he­bale, known as Bale to her col­leagues, ar­rived in Beijing in Jan­uary 2013 to work and study.

The company the 24-yearold works for is en­gaged in the cul­tural field, and runs a me­dia park in a sub­urb of Beijing, next to the cam­pus of the Com­mu­ni­ca­tion Univer­sity of China.

Bale shares an apart­ment with eight col­leagues in a dor­mi­tory build­ing of the univer­sity, which is rented by the company. She has the small­est bed­room of three to her­self.

“I am Mus­lim, so my liv­ing and din­ing habits are dif­fer­ent from the oth­ers. I lived in a big dorm be­fore with five peo­ple, but it wasn’t con­ve­nient,” Bale said. “They felt bad when eat­ing non-ha­lal food in the room, but some­times there was no choice.”

In her own space, about 12 square me­ters, Bale can make sim­ple meals on an in­duc­tion cooker. She has to make most of her own meals be­cause there are no Ha­lal restau­rants any­where near her dor­mi­tory.

“I usu­ally fry some vegetables and boil rice for lunch, while for break­fast and sup­per, I mostly have naan and milk tea. The naan is also mailed by my mom, once a month.”

Bale, who is the el­dest child in her fam­ily and has a younger brother in high school, said she is sat­isfi with her cur­rent liv­ing ar­range­ments.

Born in a small county in north Xin­jiang, she was the only Uygur stu­dent in her schools from her pri­mary through high school ed­u­ca­tion. Thus she got used to in­ter­act­ing with other eth­nic groups.

As a Mus­lim, she takes a day off on both Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha, both tra­di­tional Mus­lim fes­ti­vals.

As part of the depart­ment that manges ser­vices for the company, Bale’s work mainly in­volves or­ga­niz­ing ac­tiv­i­ties, such as sports meets, and speech and singing con­tests. She has also helped work on fixed as­sets ap­praisals.

“Although she did not ma­jor in fi­nance, we gave her the chance to learn more and achieve more, be­cause she is a smart and self-mo­ti­vated em­ployee,” said Feng Fei, man­ager of the depart­ment. “We would like to pro­mote staff like her in the fu­ture.”

Bale is also study­ing for a master’s de­gree at the Com­mu­ni­ca­tion Univer­sity of China.

“I chose the dis­ci­pline of In­ter­na­tional Chi­nese Ed­u­ca­tion, which is dif­fer­ent from my un­der­grad­u­ate ma­jor, of broad­cast an­chor­ing,” she said. “I knew it would be hard for me to get a job as an an­chor here in Beijing.”

All her per­sonal time is com­mit­ted to study­ing, tak­ing cour­ses on week­ends and at­tend­ing lec­tures dur­ing her work days.

“I rush eat­ing after work and rush to dif­fer­ent build­ings for lec­tures. It’s tough, but worth it,” she said, with a smile, “I want to be ac­cepted by this city for my own ef­forts.”

Her re­lax­ation comes each night when she phones home to speak to her mother. She de­scribes ev­ery­thing good that has hap­pened that day, to her mother more than 3,000 kilo­me­ters away.

“I felt sad and per­plexed at the be­gin­ning, and asked my­self why I came here alone for an un­cer­tain fu­ture,” she said, look­ing down and stay­ing silent for some seconds.

“But as the days have gone by, I know I’ve grown up,” she con­tin­ued, her smile back on her face.

GAO BO / CHINA DAILY

24-year-old Uygur girl Yi­he­bale Il­ham has worked in the company for two years in Beijing.

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