Remote prefecture educates itself on ways to prosperity

Vocational school in Gansu province broadens horizons for ethnic minority students

By Shen Wendi,Ma Jingna and Xiao Xiangyi | China Daily | Updated: 2024-05-15 07:37
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Morteza Akbari gives a lesson on Persian at Linxia Modern Vocational College. CHINA DAILY

With its culture and history inexorably linked to the Silk Road, the Linxia Hui autonomous prefecture in Gansu province was an easy fit for Iranian schoolteacher Morteza Akbari and his family.

The 38-year-old is from Iran's Qom province, which was twinned with the prefecture in 2011 and has been boosted by the Belt and Road Initiative. Morteza taught Persian at Mustafa International University in Qom before he was invited to take a position at Linxia Modern Vocational College.

After seven years at the school, his bonds with the students are so strong that when a magnitude 6.2 earthquake struck the region just before midnight on Dec 18 last year, many phoned him for reassurance.

His phone began to buzz, and he was inundated with messages from his panicking students. "I'm so scared, Mr Morteza. Will I die?" one asked him.

Coming from Iran, a seismically active country, Morteza was convinced that the earthquake's most dangerous moments had passed. "You'll be fine. You have very sturdy buildings and an efficient government. You can trust them," he reassured the student.

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