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Expat Eyes | A heartfelt letter to Xinjiang

In China, people say that if one haven't been to Xinjiang, they haven’t seen the vastness and beauty of China. I didn't know why they say that until I visited Xinjiang myself. I was awed by the diversity of religions, cultures, climates, as well as advanced medical treatment , abundant resources, delicious fruits, and delectable dishes I saw there.

This is a letter about my unforgettable trip to Urumqi City, northwest China’s Xinjiang, through which I want to express my genuine feelings.

To Xinjiang:

I've always been curious about you, and I've heard so much about your beautiful natural scenery, delicious food, diverse cultures, and current development. I've seen many news reports about you. I wished I could visit and experience it all firsthand instead of just through a screen.

When we received the invitation for this scientific trip, I couldn't believe that I could go to Xinjiang. I was overjoyed. I didn't believe that I had actually been in Xinjiang until the plane landed here.

Photo shows Maryam Mohsin Hassan Abdalla poses for a photo with her Chinese paintings.

What made me happiest was that I had the opportunity to savor authentic Xinjiang cuisine. I often visited Xinjiang restaurants in other cities of China to taste the food, and this time, I was able to try a wide variety of delicious dishes for five days straight. If I say that these past few days weren't enough for me to try all the delicious food in Xinjiang, it would be no lie. When I returned to Beijing, I went to eat Xinjiang food again while missing you deep in my heart.

Aside from the delicious food, I could talk about your amazing culture and fascinating history all day long. The breathtaking scenery, advanced technology allowed us to experience them all as if we were there. It was such an incredible experience that we would love to encounter in reality.

During the visit, I felt an immense sense of happiness and was able to discern the unique characteristics of your vast land. It is said that the north of the Tianshan Mountains boasts of charming scenery, while the south is known for traditional culture and customs. This trip allowed me to explore southern Xinjiang and appreciate its diverse cultural heritage and customs. That few days of travel were truly enjoyable, providing me with an opportunity to exchange ideas with the professors at Xinjiang University. We had the chance to share our studies and research with one another, which was a great experience.

No country is an island in today's increasingly interconnected world; it is essential to strengthen and unite relationships among people from different parts of the world. We, being from twelve different countries, were there together learning each other's cultures. China and the Chinese language gathered us in Xinjiang. China has always been advocating the respect for the diversity of civilizations and the transcending of civilization barriers through the principle of equality and mutual benefit, and win-win cooperation.

Photo shows Maryam Mohsin Hassan Abdalla takes photos with Chinese dragon.

To the people of Xinjiang:

I admire your diversity and the way you live together with love and respect. I appreciate that you honor the cultures of others and are proud of your own, and preserve it and share it with the world. You set a great example for others to respect and learn from. I also love your hospitality, always greeting us with a smile, taking pictures with us and inviting us into your homes.

How I wish to be reunited with all of you again to fill every place with happiness. We received a warm welcome from the professors and students when we arrived at Xinjiang University. They greeted us with gifts and performances, which we greatly appreciated. We loved having the opportunity to try painting Chinese paintings and to enjoy the music of different ethnic groups. Your simplicity touched us deeply, and we promised to meet again.

I hope to have more opportunities to visit and explore different places in Xinjiang, to learn more about its culture and history, and to tell its unparalleled beauty to others. As a professor from Xinjiang University said, ‘Even staying in Xinjiang for ten years is not enough to witness all of its breathtaking landscapes,’ so a five-day tour is merely scratching the surface. This makes me eager to return and discover more of this magical place considered a paradise in China. Xinjiang, you have left a lasting impression on me, and I promise to be back and see you again.

Maryam Mohsin Hassan Abdalla is from Sudan and is currently an international student at Beijing Foreign Studies University.

Planner : Jie Wenjin

Reviewers : Hou Weili and Cheng Li