A Somali’s Chinese dream

My name is Hodan and I’m from Somalia. Currently, I’m a PhD student in Communication Studies in Zhejiang University. Ever since I was a teenager, I wanted to study abroad after high school. I graduate from university at 22, got my master’s degree at 25 and became a PhD student at 28. My goal is to be an influential culture envoy around the world and help women from both Arab and African countries to get their foot in education.

I came to Hangzhou in the autumn of 2005. I was dazzled by the deep and profound Chinese culture. I was deeply attracted to the dreamy and picturesque landscape in Hangzhou. I fell in love with West Lake, which is “always charming with either light or heavy make-up”, with the poems of Bai Juyi and Su Dongpo, and even more with Hangzhou people who speak with a soft dialect. After the first year here, I began to learn Chinese with great eagerness. In just two semesters, I completed three years of Chinese language courses, and successfully passed the level 5 of the HSK Chinese proficiency test.

In September 2006, I began my undergraduate life in Zhejiang Normal University. I was a little worried about my Chinese at the beginning, so every day after class I would go to the library to review sections, listen again to recorded courses, and copy notes. Through sheer determination, I completed four years of undergraduate studies in just three years, and became the first overseas student to graduate a year early at Zhejiang Normal University. After graduation, I got a scholarship from the Confucius Institute, and began the following two years of a Master of International Education program. After that, I won the prestigious Chinese Government Scholarship for Outstanding Students and began studying for doctorate degree at Zhejiang University.

I am certainly not a bookworm. I participate in many organizations, conferences and contests in my spare time. In August 2010, I participated in the third session of “Chinese Bridge” held by CCTV and won the silver award. In October 2013, I participated in the speech contest themed “My Chinese Dream”, held by Zhejiang Education Department, and won the first prize. In 2014, I also participated in a writing and composition contest organized by Zhejiang University and my essay won the first prize.

In addition, because of my love of languages and translation, I also participated in many learning and practice activities during the course of earning my doctorate degree. I worked as a distinguished translator and counselor of the Africa Research Institute and China-Africa Business School of Zhejiang Normal University, during which time I assisted them to complete many projects, and received ambassadors and representatives from many countries. Moreover, in 2011, I participated in the second session of China-Arab Economic and Trade Forum – Radio and Television Cooperation Forum held in Ningxia. Due to my excellent performance, I received an invitation from Al Jazeera for a half-year internship at their Qatar headquarters in 2013. During the internship, I had the honor to meet the President of Somalia, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, and interviewed him.

I intend to engage in the work of China-Africa and China-Arab cultural exchanges after my graduation. I hope to introduce excellent literary and fine art works of Africa and Arab countries to China, and China’s 5000 years of cultural brilliance to Africa and Arab countries, allowing more Arabs, Africans and Chinese to cross the language barrier and get to know different cultures and their subtle connotations.

Socrates once said: “The happiest thing in the world is to fight for your ideals.” The past 10 years have been the happiest in my life. I devoted my youth completely to the ideal of acquiring knowledge, and got incalculable rewards. I especially appreciate Li Kaifu’s words, when he said: “Lead your life with a dream. Lead your life with gratitude, and a sincere and helping attitude. Lead your life with persistence, fearlessness and an optimistic attitude.” Thanks for the cultivation of Yangzhou University, Zhejiang Normal University and Zhejiang University, and thanks for the help of CSC. I hope my dream can come true in the near future!

This Article was originally published in the China Daily

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