Strangers quickly become friends
I was inspired by their enthusiasm and thirst to learn more about China ... I felt I had a responsibility to pass on more about Chinese culture.”
Yuan Yiyu had planned to stay at school in July last year for potential intern opportunities. But information posted on the university’s online bulletin board piqued her interest. The notice gave details about two-week summer social practice stint in Georgia.
The 20-year-old sophomore at the University of International Business and Economics applied without hesitation and became team leader of an eight-member summer social practice group. As a member of the group, Yuan stayed in Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia.
Yuan was amazed at what she saw, especially the stunning architecture. Born in Guangzhou, Guangdong province, Yuan had previously given little thought to the world outside her hometown.
“But when I arrived in Georgia, I was immersed in a new environment,” she said.
People were incredibly friendly and “they showed huge interest in our chopsticks and often asked me where they could buy them”, she recalled.
“I was inspired by their enthusiasm and thirst to learn more about China,” she said.
“At that moment, I felt I had a responsibility to pass on more about Chinese culture.”
Majoring in accounting, Yuan said Georgia gave her a new confidence to travel to other countries and experience the local culture.
“Like the wine, what I knew about it was the taste and the grapes that it was made from, but when visiting the wine cellar in Georgia, I got to know the wine much better and learn about Georgian barrels and how they actually made the wine and how it was stored to mature.”
Yuan also hoped that more countries will get to know more about China.
“When I went abroad, I found that few people knew about the Belt and Road Initiative and I hope I can help my own country develop in the future,” she said.
Yuan came back to Beijing in August 2017, but occasionally she recalls the two-week stay in Georgia. “If there are any summer social practice programs in the future, I will definitely apply again,” she said.
Duan Yichen plays with a Sri Lankan girl in a kindergarten in Galle, Sri Lanka during her two-week stint.