Nurdin Shatar is a native of Putao, a town in Turpan's Gaochang District, in Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. He has established a farmers' library, a calligraphy and painting room and the Red Memory Exhibition Hall, all in Bageri Community. Each facility is a good place for locals to read books, and to learn about China's history and Xinjiang's development.
In 1969, then-18-year-old Nurdin joined the People's Liberation Army, and he became a frontier soldier at Northwest China's Pamirs Plateau. In 1974, after he left the army, he was admitted to the Chineselanguage department of Xinjiang University, in Urumqi, capital of Xinjiang.
After his graduation, he was assigned to teach at Turpan Normal School. In 1982, he was transferred to work in the Office of Party's History under Turpan Committee of the Communist Party of China. He worked diligently, and he never lost his desire to read.
Nurdin has loved reading since he was a child. By the time he retired, in 1997, tens of thousands of books filled two rooms of his house. Many young students visited his house to read his books, so he bought many children's books for them.
"My father never hesitated to buy books for me," says Enwer, Nurdin's son. "Influenced by my grandfather, I enjoy reading books, including those that my grandfather recommends to me. Reading Chineselanguage books helps me improve my Chineselanguage skills, while reading history books helps me understand how wonderful life is today," says Rebiguli Rouzi, Nurdin's granddaughter.
Nurdin says the power of knowledge has supported him throughout his life, and helped him grow from an ordinary rural child into a well-educated Party member with ideals.
In October 1997, Nurdin established a reading room in his courtyard. Although the reading room was small, it was welcomed by locals. Many students visited the reading room, to read books, after school, and many of the villagers also read books in the room after they finished their farm work. At that time, Nurdin hoped to open a spacious library, to display all of his books, so the villagers could borrow and read books for free.
In 2008, Nurdin learned about the national policy that encouraged farmers to establish farmers' libraries. He told the people's government of the town about his hope to establish such a library. With the support of the publicity department of Turpan's government, and also the town's government, Nurdin finally realized his dream — he built a 50-square-meter farmers' library opposite his house that year.
Since it was established, in 2008, Nurdin's library has become a popular place among the residents of Bageri Community. During the slack season, people like to sit in the library, reading books and sipping tea.
Through reading books, some of the villagers have learned about the development and changes of both the country and Xinjiang. Other residents have obtained updated agricultural information and new information about grape-planting technology. Farmers are not the only readers; with the growing reputation of the library, cadres, students, teachers and self-employed villagers have also become regular patrons.
"Good books guide people onto the right path. In particular, it is good for children to read more books. It is like buttoning your coat. When the first button is done wrong, the rest will all be wrong. Reading good books is helpful to young people's growth and development," Nurdin says. His wife understands and supports him.
Abulaiti Yusupu is a regular visitor to Nurdin's library. He visits the library whenever he has some free time, as he knows of the benefits of reading. One day, he read an agricultural book that detailed methods of pruning grape branches. After he began using the methods, the output of the grapes in his vineyard multiplied. So did his income.
After Aiyixian Jianaiti bought a motorcycle, he often visited the library to read books about repairing motorcycles. After he gained relevant knowledge and mastered motorcycle-repair skills, he opened a motorcycle-repair shop. Many other residents have used the library to obtain knowledge, learn skills and improve their lives.
In October 2016, with the support of the Turpan and Gaochang District governments, Nurdin established a calligraphy and painting room and Red Memory Exhibition Hall, which combined covered nearly 400 square meters. The room and the hall exhibit posters, pictures, newspapers, comic books and classic literary works.
The governments donated televisions, bookshelves, e-book readers, desks and chairs to the hall, which exhibits more than 300 precious pictures and paintings about China's revolutionary history, and Xinjiang's development and patriotic education.
Red Memory Exhibition Hall has become a place where people from various ethnic groups can learn about history and receive a patriotic education. The hall receives visitors, of different age groups, every day.
Nurdin hopes more people will learn about and remember history, and that they will cherish their happy lives through reading books and watching pictures. That was his original aspiration when he established the hall.
"As a Chinese saying goes: Drinking the water of a well, one should never forget who dug it. Under the leadership of the Party, people of all ethnic groups in China have worked hard to achieve today's hard-won happiness. We should be grateful," Nurdin says.
To date, Nurdin has collected and placed more than 40,000 books in his library. The library is not only a place for locals to obtain knowledge, but also a venue for publicity activities, in terms of national unity education.
Nurdin invites Party members as well as farmers and herdsmen to serve as volunteer narrators in the library, and to share stories about safeguarding national unity. Such activities help people understand the importance and necessity of national unity, and inspire them to resolutely safeguard national unity.
Staying true to the Party's original aspiration and founding mission, Nurdin has often been referred to as the Uncle Kurban of the new era. Kurban Tulum (1883-1975), a Xinjiang native who joined the Party in 1959, was a national model worker and a deputy to the National People's Congress.
In 2019, Nurdin's family was named a National Most Beautiful Family.
(Source: Gaochang Women's Federation in Turpan, Xinjiang/Women of China English Monthly February 2022 issue)
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