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JH and B&R—International Dialogue
Post Time: 11/07/2017

      As the Suoyuan 2017 session of the Jinhua Homestay came to its halfway point, the exchanges and blend of international and domestic cultures increased in both quality and quantity. As a special event of the daily evening “salon time,” a lecture on the Belt and Road was held entirely in English at the Wuben Hall of Suoyuan Village, Jindong District.

      Among the 36 participants from 21 countries, 15 of them are from countries along the Belt and Road, namely Israel, Pakistan, Russia, Laos, India, Myanmar, and Singapore, setting a new record for a single session of the Jinhua Homestay.

       The Belt and Road initiative is short for the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road. But what is the impact of bringing a dazzling theme, like the B&R, to such an international audience in a historical Chinese village?

       “Tonight, are you coming to listen to the lecture on the Belt and Road?”, “Do they know what the Belt and Road is?”, and “Will they be interested in it?” were just some of the questions of the moment.

       All these doubts were swept away when Anastasiia Podareva, star of the Chinese Classical Poetry Quiz Show, appeared at the entrance of Suoyuan.

       Anastasiia is currently majoring in Chinese Language at Zhejiang Science and Technology University. Her Chinese name, Tang Xilan, is a poetic name referring to the orchid blossom (lan) blazing in the dawn (xi) of the Tang Empire (tang). She started studying Chinese in her high school years in Russia and now loves China.

       Anastasiia lives in Home Plus 12 with two other participants and one volunteer.

She is the youngest, 22; and the Burmese Nang Si Htong, 25, is the oldest one. The smiley Burmese participant has Chinese origins: her mother is a Myanmar native and her father is from Yunnan. Syed Ammad Ud, a 23-year-old from Pakistan, has not learned Chinese yet and is being taken care of by all the others, particularly his roommate, Guo Kaixin, a native of Taizhou and postgraduate student at Zhejiang Normal University, who is working as a volunteer at the JH. The four of them have gotten along well since the very beginning: Anastasiia adopted the volunteer's name to make a pun and tell everyone that they would live happily together: “Kǎixīn (volunteer's name) sounds like kāixīn (happy), he's happy, we are all happy!”

       “Coming to Jinhua, I could not expect to find so many good friends and teachers. We are so happy to all be here together. Our smiles and laughs are the most wonderful thing in life,” said Anastasiia.

  Anastasiia likes Chinese poetry very much, particularly Xu Zhimo’s Farewell to Cambridge and I Don't Know Which Direction the Wind is Blowing. The charm of Suoyuan, with its surrounding green mountains and flowing creeks, astounds Anastasiia. She remarked, “I love this place.”

       At 6 p.m., an hour before the lecture began, I met and chatted with Anastasiia at the entrance to the village. She invited me enthusiastically: “Are you coming to the lecture on the Belt and Road?” She, Si, and Ammad were getting ready to cycle around Green Lane and all knew about the B&R. “The Belt and Road is a very good initiative,” they told me.

From left: Nang Si Htong, Anastasiia Podareva, and Syed Ammad Ud

       At 6:50, 10 minutes before the lecture started, the JH participants started to arrive at the venue, Wuben Hall. Anastasiia, Si, and Ammad also happily returned from their bike ride and were ready to attend the event.

       The keynote speaker of evening was Dai Hua, professor at Ocean University of China and director of the International Center for Maritime Affairs.

       “Do you, participants, have any interest in the Belt and Road Initiative?” he commenced.

  “Sure, we do. I was just asking about it few days ago,” answered Faiza Manzoor, a 29-year-old Pakistani participant, who is doing her PhD in economics at Zhejiang University. She said that the B&R is a great initiative that will benefit not only China but also the countries interested in the initiative

       The lecture lasted more than an hour. Professor Dai Hua started from the history of the Silk Road and introduced the progress of the B&R initiative, showing pictures, analyzing charts, and giving illuminating explanations.

       Professor Dai Hua mentioned two key characters related to the B&R—通 (tōng) and 共 (gòng)—showing them on the big screen and asking whether any of the audience knew them.

       “Within the Belt and Road initiative, the Chinese Government is committed to realizing the idea of barrier-free intercommunication and interconnection (tōng) among the countries along the Belt and Road,” he explained. He went on to say that China will focus on joint (gòng) business, sharing, and growth with countries along the B&R.

       Professor Dai Hua also made special mention of the CR Railway Express, connecting Yiwu to Europe.

       In conclusion, Professor Dai Hua said, “Peoples around the world belong to the same big family, who will benefit from the strength of the union. The B&R is not at all a one-man show for China, but an ensemble task for all the countries involved. (By Li Yan, translated by Marco Lovisetto, edited by Kendra Fiddler)

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