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Home thoughts spur student's return

By Liu Jing (China Daily)

Updated: 2015-09-18 07:42:12

The eight years she spent in the Eastern coastal cities of Xiamen and Shenzhen are among Adila Alet's most precious memories, but she never forgot her hometown in the country's far west.

Adila, a member of the Uygur ethnic group, was born in Atushen, a city in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region. At age 16, she was sent to a high school in Xiamen, Fujian province, thanks to the Neigao program, a central government initiative to provide students from Xinjiang's ethnic groups with education outside the region.

"Before that, the only big cities I'd heard of were Beijing and Shanghai. I learned from TV that the cities have endless skyscrapers and countless people," Adila said. "I felt so excited when people told me that Xiamen was a beautiful city and I would be able to see the sea."

In 2006, Adil was one of 40 Uygur students from Xinjiang recruited by Jimei Middle School in Xiamen. The school hired a cook from Xinjiang to prepare halal food for the students during their four-year stay, and when Adila fell ill and was forced to rest in her dormitory, a doctor visited her regularly and one of the teachers brought her food every day.

She became good friends with her classmates, although most of them knew very little about Xinjiang. "At first, they even asked me whether students in Xinjiang went to school on horses or camels," Adila said.

After graduating from high school in 2010, Adila studied law at Shenzhen University in Guangdong province. Last year, she left university and found a job with the Kashgar Tourism Bureau. Although inland cities offer better job opportunities, most of Adila's friends from the program chose to return to Xinjiang

"We have received a very good education, and it's our duty to bring that knowledge back home," she said.

Her job provides numerous opportunities to learn about the culture and history of the Uygur people and Kashgar, one of the region's oldest cities.

"It may sound strange, but I didn't know much about my own ethnic group before I got this job," she said. "But now, as I learn more about Kashgar, I feel extremely proud to be a Uygur."

(China Daily 09/18/2015 page6)