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Student's rare blood bonds Kazakhstan and China

By Liu Xiaoli in Haikou and Zhao Xinying in Beijing | China Daily | Updated: 2013-09-12 07:33

Student's rare blood bonds Kazakhstan and China

Li Jianbao, president of Hainan University, praises Tulenov Ruslan for donating blood after the opening ceremony of the university's new semester on Wednesday. Huang Yiming / China Daily

Tulenov Ruslan, a Kazakh who first came to China in 2008 when he was 16, never thought that he and his rare blood type would become symbols of friendship between China and his mother country.

President Xi Jinping, in Kazakhstan on Saturday for a state visit, mentioned Ruslan in a speech at Nazarbayev University. Xi noted that Ruslan has donated blood twice a year since he began studying at Hainan University in China in 2009.

Ruslan has type Rh-negative blood, which is rare in China and therefore called "panda blood" by Chinese people. It is often difficult for Chinese patients with this blood type to find a match.

Xi said Ruslan, who donates his blood for free, has helped relieve the pain of many Chinese patients. Ruslan said he was completely surprised when he heard Xi's speech.

"I didn't think donating blood was a big deal, so I was surprised to hear that the president mentioned me on his visit to my country," said Ruslan, who added that he called his mother immediately upon hearing the speech to share the excitement.

Born in 1992, Ruslan was raised by his single mother in Kazakhstan. When he was 16, he became interested in Hainan after looking at a map of the world and seeing its beautiful scenery on the Internet. In 2008, he made a solo trip to the southern island and soon made the decision to go to college there.

"I like the blue skies, the fresh air and the hospitable people here," he said.

After two years of studying the Chinese language at Hainan University, Ruslan was admitted in 2011 as a freshman pursuing a business administration major.

He first started donating his blood in 2009 after he heard that his rare type was badly needed and had the potential to save lives.

Today, having donated more than 1,000 millimeters of his blood, Ruslan is respected by many of his Chinese classmates and friends.

"I feel happy that my blood can help people," he said.

His hospitality and readiness to help others has also created friendships and compliments.

Kiyono Hirofumi, a Japanese student studying Chinese at Hainan University, said he knew nothing about Hainan when he first arrived. Ruslan, Hirofumi said, helped him a great deal in acclimating to life on the island.

"He told me where to have meals, how to make friends with Chinese students, and he also told me to learn Chinese by watching Chinese TV series," Hirofumi said. "He is a good friend of mine."

Yang Yunsheng, a professor at Hainan University, said Ruslan often helps teachers in their work with international students.

"There are dozens of students from Kazakhstan in our university," Yang said. "Ruslan is among the best."

Over the past four years, Ruslan has often taken part in sports and cultural activities around the university. This March, in a competition organized by the Ministry of Education that tested international students in China on their knowledge about Chinese culture, Ruslan won second place in the Hainan competition.

On Wednesday, Hainan University awarded Ruslan 100,000 yuan ($16,340) for his contributions to strengthening ties between China and Kazakhstan.

Ruslan said he never imagined that he would win the university award.

"I will give it to my mother because she raised me," he said.

He said he would like to settle down in Hainan if he is able to find a job on the island.

"I like Hainan and I am used to the lifestyle here," he said.

According to statistics from the Ministry of Education, the number of Kazakh students studying in China has been increasing. In 2012, there were 9,565 Kazakhs studying in China, up from 8,287 in 2011.

Contact the writer at liuxiaoli@chinadaily.com.cn


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