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       Updated:2018-01-03      Text:Large /  Medium  /  Small  

A celebration of cultures


International students from countries including India, Madagascar, Russia and Tajikistan at the University of International Business and Economics on Thursday attend the 8th International Culture Festival in Beijing, dancing, playing music instruments and selling their countries' souvenirs. ZHU XINGXIN/CHINA DAILY


A recent festival at a Beijing university highlights the countries along the Belt and Road. Zhang Lei reports.

Dances. Martial arts. Peking Opera. Applause erupted as Chinese and foreign students sang Together at the end of the three-hour-long opening ceremony of the 8th International Culture Festival on the campus of Beijing's University of International Business and Economics on Thursday.

Otherwise, it looked like a hawkers market. Students called to passers-by, hoping to lure them to the 67 food stalls and exhibition booths, 37 of which were dedicated to the ancient Silk Road.

This year's theme, "Youth Messengers on the Silk Road", nods to the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation that will take place in Beijing on May 14 and 15.

The student festival was divided into three areas-"Retrace the Silk Road", "World Customs" and "Charm of the Chinese Style".

International students presented performances and staple dishes from their homelands.

Croissants and baguettes were washed down with champagne that overflowed after corks were popped in the French booth.

The Russian stand hosted nesting dolls, caviar and black bread.

"The Chinese are passionate people, and cultural-exchange activities like this will surely let us better know each other," says Moscow native Irina Gogolodze, who plans to work in international trade in Beijing after completing her postgraduate program.

The 23-year-old is also the president of Beijing's Russian Students Association, which hosts such weekly events as readings, lectures and karaoke.

She has witnessed a surge in young people coming to study and work in China over the past half decade, and believes this improves bilateral relationships.

UIBE's president, Wang Jiaqiong, says: "Our university has remained committed to advocating that young people act as pioneers of the Belt and Road Initiative. We encourage them to play more active roles in it by hearing their voices."

The Central Committee of the Communist Youth League of China and the UIBE set up the Belt and Road Collaborative Development Center for students in 2015.

Its "Silk Road, New World: Youth, China Dream" events have been joined by students from more than 400 universities, including Tsinghua, Fudan and Xi'an Jiaotong, in 24 provinces.

Over 12,000 students have become involved in such dimensions of the initiative as trade flow, currency circulation, precision poverty alleviation, and mass entrepreneurship and innovation, Wang says. He hopes building on-campus platforms for cross-cultural education and friendship, such as the festival, will move these goals forward.

Participants also enjoyed tea with 28 diplomats in China, who answered questions on such issues as the image of Chinese youth, mainstream media and national entrepreneurship.

Ruth Jordan, first secretary of Barbados' embassy in China, says China's policy support, stable macroeconomic situation and internationalization provide both Chinese and overseas students entrepreneurial opportunities.

A highlight of this year's culture festival was the "Ambassadors' Wish List", in which diplomats recorded their hopes and students fulfill them.

Tajik Fotima Yakudova is a beneficiary of China's international cooperation. The 27-year-old received a scholarship provided by Tajikistan's state savings bank, Amonatbonk-where she worked for two years-and the China Development Bank. She's in her second year of studying finance at the UIBE.

"We have witnessed increasing trade business between our countries, and China's Belt and Road Initiative is going to stimulate more growth for both," she says.