Feature: Egyptian student holds steadfast in China

Source:Xinhua 2020-02-14


YINCHUAN, Feb. 13 (Xinhua) -- Basma Ossama Sarwat, a 27-year-old Egyptian student finishing her PhD program in northwest China's Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, chose to stay in China amid the novel coronavirus outbreak in the country.

"I have stayed in China for seven years. I want to stand together with the Chinese people at their time of hardship," Sarwat said.


After studying Chinese for four years at her hometown of Ismailia, Satwat came to the University of Ningxia to learn ethnology. "I went to Beijing for summer camp during my sophomore year, that's when I made up my mind to come back to China to study," she said.

"I've been to big cities like the southern cities of Guangzhou and Shenzhen, but my favorite place in China is Ningxia," she said, "It reminds me of my hometown."

Having given herself the Chinese name "Xiao Xiao," meaning "smile" in Chinese, Sarwat has stayed optimistic amid the coronavirus outbreak. She has followed the school's instructions to stay in and not leave campus.

Although students who stay on campus are unable to leave the school gate, as long as they list their required daily necessities in a WeChat group, the school will arrange people to deliver them. The goods are packed in a bag with the name and dormitory number written on it.

"All I need to do is to go and get it, without contact with anybody, which is safe and convenient," she said.

The dorms and the hallways of the dorm building have been disinfected every day, she said, adding that the dorm manager measures her temperature when she goes out to throw away trash once in a while. "I feel that I have nothing to worry about," she said.

Sarwat has learned to make some Chinese food by herself in her dorm room, including her favorite hotpot and malatang (hot spicy soup). She has been posting videos of herself making food online, sharing her life with friends from China and back home.


Sarwat didn't panic when the news about the virus spread all over the media. "I have confidence in the Chinese government, and I believe that everything will be fine as long as we follow their guidance," she said.

With all the measures taken by the government including shutting down large public areas, postponing the resumption of work and school, launching strict traffic control, and most importantly, quarantining the city of Wuhan, the worst-hit place of the novel coronavirus, Sarwat believes that few countries could have handled the situation as well as China.

"Suspending the work of the factories will cause significant economic loss, but the Chinese government has prioritized people's safety, and that takes a lot of courage," she said.

Sarwat has conducted a lot of research and read books about Chinese culture for her final essay "social and cultural issues of Chinese people in Egypt," but what has truly helped her understand Chinese society is the Chinese man she fell in love with.

She met her fiancé in Ningxia's capital city of Yinchuan a couple of years ago. "My biggest wish for 2020 is to get my PhD degree and start my career in China," Sarwat said, adding the thing she wants to do the most right now is to spread Chinese history and culture, especially culinary culture, back to her hometown.

"I want to translate 'A Bite of China' into Arabic, letting people from my world know what the real China looks like," she said, adding that people from her hometown have shown a growing interest in China in recent years.

China is developing at an incredibly fast pace, Sarwat said. "I was amazed by how fast the two makeshift hospitals Huoshenshan and Leishenshan in Wuhan were built, that's one of the reasons that I have great faith in China winning the war against the virus," she said.


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