Editor's Note: May 4 marks the Youth Day of China, and May 5, 2022 marks the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Youth League of China. How do young expatriates view the Chinese youth through their life and observation? How will the young shape the shared future? Following are excerpts from what some young interviewees told China Daily.
(JIN DING / CHINA DAILY)
Youths' voices not that different
Over the past six years, I have written more than 2,000 stories on social media for "Generation Z" from a cross-cultural point of view. Social media gives everyone a voice. But I think our voices are not that different.
When the COVID-19 pandemic broke out in 2020, many Chinese netizens were amazed by the "balcony artists" in Italy. Italian violinist Aldo Cicchini once played Butterfly Lovers for his Chinese audience from his balcony, which soon became a trendy topic on social media.
Later, many music lovers in China interacted online with him, and joined his ensemble. Some even played Chinese musical instruments like the guzheng.
Cicchini told me in an interview that every time he saw someone new joining him in the musical soirees, it sent a message of solidarity and empathy.
"Music can unite us regardless of the distance; it reminds us that we are humans," he said.
Indeed, humanity is a community with a shared future.
Wang Xingwei (China), an editor with 21st Century English Education Media
'No working, no eating'
I am a youth from the United States studying in China. And I feel that studying in China is one of the best ways to understand this magnificent and amazing country.
Out of all the interactions I have had with my Chinese classmates and friends, my favorites are the gatherings of close foreign and Chinese friends in my dorm room to cook and eat. It may sound like nothing special, but those are some of my most cherished memories at Beijing Language and Culture University.
At times, there were about eight or nine of us. We would plan when to head off to the supermarket, buy the ingredients together, come back to our dorm, cook and enjoy a sumptuous meal, and then clean up together.
I tried my best to foster the spirit of collectivism among us. As I used to say at the time, "if you want to eat, you have to work".
Dylan Austin Walker (US), a student at Beijing Language and Culture University
Youths are change-makers
I'm a curator of SCOLAR Beijing Hub, which is a youth initiative platform that unites young leaders from the countries in the framework of Shanghai Cooperation Organization's cooperation.
At present, more than a half of our platform members are Chinese. They are all young, between 22 and 30 years old. When we invited the members for this year's cohort, I was surprised by how accomplished Chinese applicants were. Our new members are coming from the best universities of China and the world, international media, the biggest tech companies and well-known think tanks. They are change-makers.
Olesia Ermakova (Russia), a curator at SCOLAR Beijing Hub
Youths shape the future
At Tsinghua University, I was truly amazed by the young minds from this ancient country. What surprised me most were their open mind and creativity. For me, that broke the stereotype of Chinese youths not being open-minded and lacking creativity.
When I hang out with my Chinese friends, I don't find any difference between them and friends from other countries. We spend time together, and have fun just like anywhere else in the world.
But when it comes to studies and work, my Chinese friends show great energy, passion and intelligence that I haven't seen anywhere else, and they can finish their work in a short time. Their capability and skills have surprised me, and I think that these are one of the biggest advantages and distinguishing features of the new generation of Chinese youths thanks to the rapid growth of the Chinese economy and influence of China on the international stage.
It is very important to understand the distinct characteristics and attach due importance to China's youths, who will shape the country's future.
As a Russian student studying in China for more than a decade, I feel privileged and lucky to see and experience the life of Chinese youths, and I hope that the world would see China as I have seen it. The youth is our future. I am looking forward to seeing even more collaboration and development not only between youths from Russia and China, but also from those across the whole world.
Nik Gu (Russia), a student at Tsinghua University
Culture helps fight pandemic
I started my higher studies in China University of Political Science and Law in 2020. The teachers were very good and kind to the students.
I was surprised to be warmly welcomed by the Chinese students when I entered the main gate of the university. They took my luggage and carried it for me to the university canteen, and offered me special beef noodles and dumplings.
Chinese friends have accompanied me to many restaurants. We have enjoyed special tea with milk, almonds, peanuts and other ingredients.
I have realized that Chinese culture and traditional values are helpful in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic and recovering fast in the post-pandemic era. Since the beginning of the novel coronavirus outbreak, unlike in some Western countries, all the people in China have been following the government's instructions. Perhaps that's why China can more efficiently deal with serious public health issues.
Shahzad Khurram (Pakistan), a student at China University of Political Science and Law
All for one another
In recent days, a term trending online and high on almost everyone's mind is "let's defend Shanghai together". Infections began rising in some Chinese cities, including Shanghai, because of the emergence of the more contagious Omicron variant of the virus. To protect Shanghai, indeed the whole of China, everyone has been fighting the pandemic together, some on the front-line and others as volunteers and in other capacities.
In this critical period, I've been helping students as a dormitory assistant of the international students' dormitory on the Minhang campus of the East China Normal University in Shanghai. I'm quite busy during this closed-loop management period in Shanghai because I have had to do a lot of work with the help of the Global Education Center. My main duty is to ensure all international students take the nucleic acid test on time, and share all the information in the WeChat group in Chinese and English in a timely manner.
My daily duty also includes distributing meals to students together with the dormitory staff. Because of the closed-loop management, everything is closed in Shanghai, including courier services. Students can't order any food or other essentials by themselves. So, the school opens an emergency line to help them buy the necessary things they need.
In accordance with the notice from the university to help fulfill students' needs, I collect the lists of the essential things they need and send it to the university authorities. And after the parcels arrive at the gate, I collect and deliver them to the students.
Although the sudden increase in infections in Shanghai has disrupted academic and work life, everyone is working hard to restore normalcy in the city.
Allow me to quote from a Bengali poem by Kamini Roy (died 1933):
"We are all for one another,
Each one of us is for the other."
Pritam Saha (Bangladeshi), a student at East China Normal University, Shanghai
Three lessons from youths
In today's China, the younger generation is playing a pivotal role in building a modern and prosperous nation. We can learn three important lessons from China's youths when it comes to global development.
The first lesson is the patriotic feeling of Chinese youths. In particular, Chinese youths have been working hard for the rapid development and glory of their beloved nation. Their commitment to nurturing and preserving their country's culture, language and history is considered a great virtue. Chinese youths also have a good reputation in different areas, and are known for raising the Chinese flag at global competitions.
Second, the culture of hard work pervades all aspects of life in China. This is an important asset for the nation. I have noticed the hard work and industriousness of Chinese youths in Beijing, especially in education institutions including our University of International Business and Economics and public service fields. Also, their determination and triumph in the trade and investment sectors is admirable.
Third, Chinese youths' contribution to the fields of research and innovation is immense. As a result, the experience of Chinese youths in developing and implementing new technologies is impressive. Also, the Communist Party of China's effective leadership and investments in science and technology have boosted the competitiveness of the younger generation in China.
Biruk Kedir (Ethiopia), a student at the University of International Business and Economics (UIBE)
Building more prosperous China
My name is Hanna Kalashnikova. I am from Ukraine, and have been studying at Dalian Minzu University for four years. I love the pleasant living environment of Dalian, Liaoning province, and feel lucky to have made a lot of young Chinese friends.
During my four years at the university, I have gradually learned more about China and Chinese culture. What has impressed me most are the virtues of Chinese youths, their diligence, kindness toward others, and respect for their culture.
Taking pleasure in helping others is another virtue that I have seen in the fight against the pandemic over the past two years. The Chinese youths' self-sacrificing spirit to build a better society is exemplary.
I see many young Chinese people in my community volunteering to send foods to people who are quarantined at home, organizing residents to take the nucleic acid test and scanning their health code, and helping the elderly whose children do not live with them.
Most often, they have had to work in the community service center for more than 12 hours a day. They always strive to do their best, especially when the going gets tough.
The last thing I want to mention is the great respect that Chinese youths attach to their traditional culture. I was happy to attend a traditional Chinese handicraft class in an elegant classroom with strong traditional Chinese features.
As a saying goes, "where there is a will, there is a way". The dedication and commitment of the young Chinese people will surely help build a more prosperous China.
Hanna Kalashnikova (Ukraine), a student at Dalian Minzu University
Precious memories of China
Studying in Poland is not very stressful. Studying in China, however, has created a lot of pressure on me. But in the process of studying hard, I fell in love with learning once again.
Every Chinese person I have met was more than happy to share with me some Chinese stories, myths and history.
In general, my days of studying in China are the most precious memories of my life.
I used to miss home a lot in Beijing, and because of COVID-19, I had to return home.
But now I miss my second home, China.
Anna Karolina Szeszula (Poland), a student at Beijing Language and Culture University
A friend indeed
In 2015, my journey as an international student began at Beijing Language and Culture University.
Luckily enough, I met a friend who helped me on my journey with the Chinese language and culture outside the education system. She took me to different restaurants, and I was able to taste famous Chinese delicacies such as Peking duck, kung pao chicken and baozi.
What surprised me is that she always knew the historical background behind almost all the dishes we ate. She narrated different stories about China and took me to famous places such as the Summer Palace and the Beihai Park.
Chinese youths today are more open and ambitious.
The Chinese society has entered a relatively stable period. China's welfare system, too, has developed. Young people can find a job, and don't have to worry about food and clothing.
China as a nation is developing very fast. And young people are immensely optimistic about their future as individuals.
Katya Volkova (Latvia), a student at the University of International Business and Economics (UIBE)
Working hard best describes youths
If you ask me to describe young people in China, I will use just one word to do so, pin (work hard). I think young people in China are working and studying very hard.
I remember when I first came to China and went to the library in my university with a few classmates to study. But there were no vacant seats in the library. They were all occupied by students, who were either studying or preparing a paper, or taking notes. The Chinese people have the same attitude toward work.
So I learned to pin (work hard), in order to become better.
Mohamed Jihad (Egypt), a student at Communication University of China
The views don't necessarily represent those of China Daily.