Opinion / Blog

A dream comes true in Urumqi

By François de la Chevalerie (blog.chinadaily.com.cn) Updated: 2015-10-06 14:00

A couple of years ago, I went up to Urumqi for a seminar upon the sediment issue in China, a somewhat complicated topic aiming at a limited circle of people, mostly experienced scientists and young postgraduates.

At the end of the day - as I always do through all my traveling in China - I walked across Xinjiang’s capital at random with little or no apparent destination.

Taking a close look at the people in the streets is an exciting show, the best way to grasp the soul of a city. To this end, my only tools were my prying eyes, my shoes and endless patience.

On that confident basis, I have begun my journey in Urumqi, a Mongolian word which means "beautiful pasture".

This time, my persistence paid off.

During this night walk, I had a recurring thought in my mind.

A dream comes true in Urumqi

François de la Chevalerie[The photo is provided to China Daily]

For decades, Urumqi has been a welcoming place for numerous ethnic groups, the grounds of different cultures, such as the Han, the Uyghur, the Kazakhs, the Hui.

Through newspapers and television, I've heard that the region is prone to civil unrest. Therefore, a question arises in my mind : How will this complex mixture work in the long run?

However, I choose not to fall into the trap of preconceived ideas. I'd like to get beyond that. My intention was to go to the source, knock at the door of the Urumqi man’s street, I mean, to try to sneak up on him!

After wandering around for a while, I stopped in a public square. I sat on a bench. In front of me, on another bench, were three young, half-asleep people in their early thirties dressed in sportswear.

Amidst two men, a woman.

I have to acknowledge - sonething which makes me feel ashamed – that I observed them with a particular degree of intrusiveness.

According to their facial features, they appeared to belong to various ethnic groups. The men, an Uyghur and a Kazakh. The woman, a Han.

The two men laid back their head on the woman's shoulder. In her hands, were loose-leaf sheets.

Suddenly, driven by an unknown force, they began to read the texts. They seemed to recite whole passages by heart as if they were studying to pass school exams. In between reading, more than once, they laughed.

It was a really contagious laughter. Around them, the people were smiling as I did, happily. With this wonderful picture in mind, I made my way back to the hotel.

The very next day, I returned to the conference. The topic of the day: how the younger generation will perceive the issue of the sediment treatment and valorization.

What a curious idea? I questioned a colleague. He told me that the conference organizers would like to encourage vocations in a sector mostly neglected by young researchers. Much to my surprise, I saw the three young people that I met the day before.

They stood on the platform. On this occasion, they were wearing proper conference uniforms, ties and suits. This time, they kept a severe face. The speaker introduced their names one by one. My intuition was right.

Their names resound in my memories like a song. They were wearing the country's ethnic diversity with dignity and pride. Their beauty, their remarkable osmosis and global strength impressed me.

Then they took the floor.

“Our ambition, they said with one voice, is that the Yellow River, the China mother river, may become navigable in all its parts someday in the fifty years to come. We have therefore decided to give our lives to make it possible. We are convinced that all ethnic groups and peoples living nearby the river share the same dream, our dream”.

Their presentation was well structured and packed with interesting ideas. A number of well-argued and well-considered research avenues were explored. By throwing out the sediment, in the horizon of 2050, the Huang He could become a navigable waterway in all its parts.

Beside the technical aspect, their message was vital, life-changing and life-giving. The public listened to them carefully and with deep interest.

One hour later, the audience applauded wholeheartedly which is something unusual in this type of meeting. A standing ovation was greatly merited.

I myself was overwhelmed by this contagious enthusiasm. I warmly welcomed their inspiring speech.

At the end, the three young people were yelling, laughing, hugging and pounding each other on the back.

I felt like I was seeing the future in front of me.

This day in Urumqi This day, in China.

This essay is originally written in China Daily blog platform. Click here for it http://bbs.chinadaily.com.cn/blog-2067059-31728.html


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