|Zhannur Niyazbekova, a PhD student from Northwest A&F University. [Xinhua]|
XI'AN — Zhannur Niyazbekova obtained her doctorate from Northwest A&F University this summer and then decided to remain at the university in Shaanxi Province to engage in postdoctoral research.
Hailing from Kazakhstan, the young woman said she occasionally visits her Chinese "grandmother" Zhang Kaizhi, who lives in Zhenba County.
Niyazbekova and Zhang met during a practical activity at the university. Niyazbekova now refers to the Chinese woman as "grandma" because she said she reminds her of her own grandmother back home.
"My Chinese 'grandmother' works on a sheep farm and contacts me when she has problems with the sheep. I sometimes remind her and the other villagers to take good care of sanitation in the sheep pens to prevent disease," Niyazbekova said.
The PhD student is among the roughly 600 students from Shanghai Cooperation Organization member states to have studied at NWAFU since 2007.
The international students have not only learned in classrooms, they have also learned from the grassroots organizations they visit across the province — from Yan'an, a former revolutionary base of the Communist Party of China, to farmlands and farmers' homes.
Niyazbekova said she hopes to promote friendship between China and Kazakhstan, and contribute what she learned in China to the common development of both countries. Last year, a rural vitalization support group for international students was set up at NWAFU. Pakistani student Mansoor Ahmed Koondar is the group's head.
Koondar previously taught English in Heyang County, Shaanxi, where he won praise from local teachers and students.
"Students here have improved in their English. What's more important is that they are no longer shy, and are eager to acquire new knowledge and explore the outside world," he said.
Koondar has witnessed the huge changes to China's rural areas, thanks to the national rural vitalization strategy.
"I would like to contribute to the development of rural education in my country in the future," he added.
For students from SCO member states who cannot travel to China due to COVID-19 restrictions, NWAFU offers online courses and has opened agricultural science and technology demonstration parks overseas.
Last year, NWAFU joined 19 universities from eight SCO member states in launching the SCO Agricultural Universities Alliance.
"The university will make full use of China's advantages in agriculture and agricultural higher education to strengthen exchange and cooperation with SCO member states in the field," said Wu Pute, president of NWAFU.
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