Young Kazakhstanis see bright future after studying in China

Dana, a 25-year-old from Kazakhstan, at the Temple of Heaven in Beijing.

To 23-year-old Sabit Togzhan, the future has been clearly planned.

Togzhan is a graduate student from Kazakhstan at Beijing-based University of International Business and Economics (UIBE).

In 2012, at the age of 17, Togzhan came to China from her hometown Atyrau, a city in northwestern Kazakhstan on the coast of the Caspian Sea. She became a student of International Economics and Trade Management at UIBE and entered the graduate course on Business Management this September.

Togzhan has made up her mind to work in a Chinese logistics company for two years after graduation and open her own company in Kazakhstan afterward.

As a child, Togzhan had been interested in the stories about the ancient Silk Road. Now she hopes to facilitate trade between China and Kazakhstan by taking advantages of the Belt and Road initiative.

"China and Kazakhstan are both my home countries. There's China in my destiny," Togzhan told the Global Times.

The vision of the Silk Road Economic Belt was first raised by Chinese President Xi Jinping in Kazakhstan's Astana in September 2013. The idea was later developed into the Belt and Road initiative.

In the past five years, China's Belt and Road initiative and Kazakhstan's Bright Road initiative have been smoothly functioning together, and led to achievements in many aspects including economics and culture.

Kazakhstani young people who have been studying in China have become an influential power.

According to the Chinese Embassy in Kazakhstan, there are currently 14,000 Kazakhstan students in China.

This Global Times reporter has interviewed some of them to learn about their stories in China.

Yertay (left) and Dimash Kudaibergen pose for a photo before Dimash became famous in China.

CHANGING FATE

Last year, Dimash Kudaibergen, a 24-year-old singer from Kazakhstan, gained a huge amount of Chinese fans after participating in a singing show on Hunan TV.

The person behind Dimash was Yertay, who had studied in Northeastern University in Shenyang, Northeast China's Liaoning Province, for three years.

In 2009, Yertay, who worked for the state television channel of Kazakhstan, occasionally received a suggestion from a friend studying in China, encouraging Yertay to come and share his culture. Yertay took the idea as "a gift from Allah," and went to Northeastern University that year without knowing a Chinese sentence.

During his years in China, Yertay always planned to promote the culture of Kazakhstan in China.

In 2014, Yertay watched The Singer on Hunnan TV and decided to promote a singer from his own country on the popular show.

After two years of effort, Yertay finally got an audition opportunity for Dimash at Hunan TV.

Why Dimash? Yertay told the Global Times that he knew what kind of singer Chinese people would appreciate. Dimash might not be the best singer in Kazakhstan, nor the most popular one, but Chinese audiences would like him, Yertay said.

Yertay took Dimash to Changsha, capital of Hunan Province, in the autumn of 2016, and treated the then 22-year-old singer to his first Chinese meal.

Dimash auditioned four songs for Hunan TV and was enrolled as a participant in the show. He competed with several other famous singers from China or other countries.

After that, Yertay found Dimash a professional talent agency. He continued to focus on promoting cultural communication between China and Kazakhstan.

In the past years, Yertay bought the copyrights of some most popular Chinese TV programs, such as Disguiser and A Bite of China, and translated them into the Kazakh language to be broadcasted in Kazakhstan.

He is now writing a book, called The China I See. He hopes more people in Kazakhstan could be interested in China through his personal experience.

Thinking back on his decision to study in China, Yertay said that it changed his ideas and lifestyle, making him a different person.

He said that people in Kazakhstan used to "accept their fate" and not try to change things. "But China gave me confidence and taught me how to realize my dreams," he said.

Dana holds a national flag at the culture festival of the University of International Business and Economics in 2017.

MORE CONFIDENT

Studying in China has made young people from Kazakhstan more confident.

Dana, a 25-year-old from Aktau in western Kazakhstan, went back home after she earned a master's degree from UIBE this July.

She wanted to work in a Chinese petrol company back home, so she could travel to China on business.

She was not worried about getting a job at all, because she speaks fluent Chinese after living in China for eight years, which is a great advantage for her.

Like Dana, Yernar, who graduated from Xi'an International Studies University in Northwest China's Shaanxi Province, has many choices for work, Chinese construction and petrol companies have offered him positions.

Yang Lei, the Chinese chief of the Confucius Institute at the Eurasian National University in Kazakhstan, told the Global Times that the country has a strong need for people who know the Chinese language in all fields, including law, foreign affairs, corporations and researchers.

In Astana, there are alumni of the Confucius Institute wherever people are speaking Chinese, which makes Yang proud.

Yesbolatov is a chemistry student at Kazakhstan's top Nazarbayev University, and is studying Chinese at the Confucius Institute during his free time. He told the Global Times that even though the English-teaching environment is more suitable for further studies in Europe and the US, there are still many students who aim to study and work in China.

Yesbolatov said that science does not have a national boundary. China is becoming more international and diversified, and has many opportunities, so he plans to start a business in China.

Although current China-Kazakhstan cooperation is mainly related to traditional industries, Yesbolatov was not worried, because the new opportunities will develop "sooner or later." He said that in addition to petrol and infrastructure construction, there would be more cooperation in other aspects between the two countries.

He said that in China everything is possible, and innovators have a chance to make their ideas reality.

DEEP UNDERSTANDING

Kuanysh Sultanovich Sultanov, Kazakhstan's former ambassador to China, told the Global Times that more and more young people in Kazakhstan are interested in China and Chinese language. He encouraged them to study in China.

China and Kazakhstan have been important neighbors to each other in history, and he expected young people to promote ties and help develop a solid bilateral relationship.

Zhang Xiyun, China's former ambassador to Kazakhstan, had many communications with students from Kazakhstan. He found that they knew China deeply and could clearly analyze the social phenomenon in China.

He said Kazakhstani young people were motivated to understand China, rather than merely look for a job.

By truly understanding each other, the people of the two countries can know the real needs of each other, leading to a solid foundation of cooperation between China and Kazakhstan, Zhang said.

Wu Chuke, a professor at the School of Ethnology and Sociology at the Minzu University of China, told the Global Times that in the past five years, China built five Confucius Institutes in Kazakhstan, and Kazakhstan opened five language and cultural centers in China. Students studying in China have been very influential for young people in Kazakhstan.

Wu believes the young people with the experience of studying in China have a broader mind and could play a significant role in China-Kazakhstan communication.

Editor: 曹家宁
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