BRI Gives Students New Horizons
03 Apr., 2019  |  Source:By Xing Wen | China Daily  |  Hits:2453

For some Chinese employers, Khalid seems to fit the bill for overseas positions. One recruiter from a leading telecommunications equipment provider at the job fair, says "intercultural communication skills are important for doing business abroad, so we usually search for eligible international students at colleges such as Tsinghua University, Peking University and Beihang University".

Another attendee of the job fair, Nathan Miayiza Diwambuena, a postgraduate student from the Democratic Republic of Congo who studies management at Tsinghua University, says he has been equipping himself with knowledge about the BRI.

In 2018, Diwambuena joined the Student Association of the Belt and Road Initiative at Tsinghua University, a student organization that aims to promote comprehensive cooperation and in-depth exchanges. Eighty percent of its members are international students.

Later, Diwambuena worked as a foreign liaison officer in the association, and has successfully invited a group of entrepreneurs, ambassadors and experts in economics or international relations to deliver lectures for the members of the association to help them better understand the BRI.

"After attending the lectures, I'm sure I can contribute to strengthening the connections between people from China and my homeland," Diwambuena says.

Diwambuena has already thought of some potential jobs he could do related to the idea.

"For instance, I can open a restaurant in Beijing that offers African delicacies, or help Chinese investment companies to tap the potential of the African market, or create a startup in the electronics and information sector back in the Congo after I work in China's high-tech companies to gain know-how and experience," he adds.

During last year's Summer Davos Forum in Tianjin, He Lifeng, head of the National Development and Reform Commission, says China had invested $28 billion on the construction of 82 economic and trade development zones in countries involved in the Belt and Road Initiative, generating over 240,000 jobs.

That has enabled a wider variety of career choices for both domestic and international students in the country. 

Rejuvenation and romance

As for young professionals, the BRI has provided even wider platforms for them to tap their capabilities and build careers.

For Tian Junnan, a 30-year-old engineer at the China National Administration of Coal Geology, the BRI has helped rejuvenate China's petroleum industry, in which both his parents have worked. It has also laid a good foundation for him to build up quality partnerships with counterparts in international energy corporations.

Tian observes that quite a number of countries, who initially stood on as onlookers, have become enthusiastic in "opening the market and collaborating with Chinese institutes and companies" after witnessing completion of many successful BRI-related projects. "In terms of overall cooperation, I've found that I can easily gain more trust and support when I negotiate with my international counterparts," says Tian.

Tian was a graduate of geophysics from the Azerbaijan State Oil and Industry University in Baku, Azerbaijan. He says at the university in Azerbaijan he was taught many innovative ideas about the exploration and extraction of petroleum.

"Well-known scholars from the Society of Exploration Geophysicists and Geological Society of America came to give us lectures, which helped me to get a clearer picture of the past, present and future of the industry."

Upon graduation, Tian came back to China in 2014, with not just a thorough grounding in geophysics but with an Azerbaijani girlfriend, Aliyeva Gunay.

"I was attracted by his unpretentiousness, politeness, honesty and respect for others, and we married in 2016," says Gunay.

Gunay, 27, is a doctorate candidate and also a part-time assistant at the China University of Petroleum. The past three years have seen her help in enrolling Russian-speaking students, organizing various activities with the student union and help launch cooperative programs between Chinese and Azerbaijani universities.

She says that after China began to offer scholarships to students from countries involved in the BRI in 2015, giving grants to about 10,000 international students each year, more and more Azerbaijani students came to the country to pursue higher education.

"The number of Azerbaijani people who study and work in Beijing has at least exceeded 400, as can be seen from the WeChat group that my fellow countrymen use to keep in contact with each other," she says. 

Wider career platforms

Engineer Jiang Ning, an operations manager from the China National Petroleum Corp working in the Yamal liquefied natural gas plant, says the BRI project has made him proud.

Jiang, a graduate from the China University of Petroleum, has devoted himself to the construction and operation of the Yamal LNG plant, a joint-venture exemplar project under the BRI since 2015 far inside the Russian Arctic Circle. The project has gathered managers, experts and workers of different nationalities including China, Russia and France, to the northeast part of the Yamal Peninsula, Russia, working on the production, liquefaction and shipping of the vast gas reserves.

"Our friendships grow day by day while working together on the same project in a place covered in snow and ice," says Jiang.

The 34-year-old has been engaged in problem-solving and analysis and working with stakeholders and construction companies.

"I have to attend about 10 meetings in a single day to figure out solutions that can be accepted by all the partners," he says.

Although a veteran LNG expert who worked in similar projects before, Jiang says he learned a lot on the Yamal project.

"The project gathered the world's top-class energy companies, construction firms and technical support, which broadened my horizons and helped me understand the organizational cultures in different countries," he says.

The Arctic can be demanding with its freezing weather, howling winds, sunshine at night and dark winter days. He missed his family, especially his son, who was only half a year old when he left for the Yamal project about four years ago.

He was sad that he missed his son's early years. But he takes pride in his project. "There are over 30,000 people working together to build up the plant from scratch, which is really encouraging," says Jiang.

Before 2018, he recalls, he had been the only Chinese manager at the site. When he successfully solved a tricky problem, his foreign colleagues would say "the Chinese man is really awesome".

"That made me feel a strong sense of fulfillment," says Jiang. "To work in an overseas project is never an arduous task for me, but a great chance to get ahead."

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