Anzelika Loves 'This Land So Deeply'

ByWang Shasha March 22, 2021


Anzelika (Chinese name An Ze), from the Republic of Latvia, speaks standard Chinese fluently. She has worked as a host for several television stations in China. This year, her Chinese-language book, Fellow An Ze, which tells of her experiences in rural China, and explains her perception of China's rural revitalization, was published. Why did she choose to write about rural China? "It is because I love this land so deeply," she says.

In April 2007, when she was a junior at University of Latvia, in Riga, capital of Latvia, Anzelika competed in a Chinese-speech contest, organized by the Embassy of the People's Republic of China in Latvia. She won first prize during the contest. 

In August that year, the 2007 Chinese Bridge Chinese Proficiency Competition for Foreign College Students, organized by Beijing-based Confucius Institute Headquarters (Hanban), was held in Changchun, in Northeast China's Jilin Province. Anzelika stood out from the 100-plus contestants, and she won second prize. 

"After the competition, Hanban offered me an opportunity to study at Beijing Language and Culture University, in Beijing, for two months. The next year, I applied for a scholarship and studied at Northeast Normal University, in Changchun," Anzelika says.

In September 2010, she began working as a host of a program on China Central Television (CCTV) International (CCTV-4). Since then, she has worked as host of several television stations, and she has hosted various galas and activities. She hosted the Spring Festival galas, on Tianjin Television, three consecutive years. 

Anzelika participates in the Boao Forum for Asia Annual Conference 2019.


Anzelika in 2020 enrolled in a Ph.D program in journalism and communication at Peking University, in Beijing. "One of the courses during my first semester is about the theory and method of grassroots communication. As I have visited some rural areas in China, to shoot programs during my work as a host, I have accumulated some related knowledge about the subject," she says. Though she is busy with her studies, she works part-time as host of various programs.

"I love reading books in my spare time, and I prefer reading print books instead of e-books. I never thought that I could write a book of my own. I was glad to seize the opportunity when Jiangxi Education Publishing House (in Nanchang, in East China's Jiangxi Province) contacted me and invited me to write about China from a foreigner's point of view last year. After discussion with my editor, I decided to write about China's rural areas," Anzelika says.

"An increasing number of foreigners have visited China in recent decades. But not many of them will go to the countryside to experience the charm of China's vast rural land. As I have had many opportunities to visit rural China, I'd like to write a book about rural China to help more people see what rural China is really like."

While she prepared to write her book, Anzelika continued to visit rural areas in China, with the hope of presenting the real rural China to her readers. Last summer, as the host of the CCTV-4 program, Foreigners in China, she visited Shanbei, a village in Xupu County, in Central China's Hunan Province, to record an episode. All of the villagers were Huayao, a branch of the Yao ethnic group.

During her week-long stay in the village, Anzelika gained a better understanding of the culture and history of the Huayao people. She learned traditional Huayao craft-making skills, and she learned how to sing local songs and cook local delicacies. The episode of the program was well-received by domestic and international audiences. 

Due to the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, the 27th Beijing International Book Fair was held online from September 26-30, 2020. Anzelika shared her book with netizens via a livestreaming platform. The book is actually a collection of essays written in Chinese. 

"Securing a decisive victory in building a moderately prosperous society, in all respects, is a very significant thing for China this year. The rural revitalization strategy, put forward in 2017, is also vital to the whole nation. China is a large agricultural country. I hope that my book will arouse foreigners' interest in rural China, and encourage them to learn more about China's rural areas, and to see the achievements of China's rural development," Anzelika says. 



"Chinese people have devoted tremendous efforts to making contributions to agricultural and rural modernization and rural revitalization. It is worth mentioning that rural women have played an indispensable role in promoting the development of rural areas. They have improved themselves in an all-round way, and they have also taken the lead in eradicating poverty. Escaping poverty is not an end, but a fresh new start for rural people to strive for better lives. I believe China will have a more promising future."

During the past 10-plus years, Anzelika has witnessed the development of cultural exchanges and economic cooperation between China and Latvia. The year of 2021 marks the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between China and Latvia. Anzelika believes the Belt and Road Initiative has brought great influence to her home country. 

"Latvia has gained a new opportunity for development since it joined the cooperation between China and Central and Eastern European Countries (17+1 Cooperation) and the Belt and Road Initiative," Anzelika says. "For example, there is a time-honored paint manufacturer in Latvia. With the recognition of China, the company won the opportunity to provide paint products for the construction of Daxing Airport, in Beijing. I hope the two countries will have more exchanges and cooperation in the future."


Photos supplied by Anzelika

(Women of China English Monthly December 2020 issue)


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