'We live in Henan and we love China!' A Pakistani Family's Life in Henan
A few days ago, an art performance was staged at the auditorium of Henan Agricultural University for the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of China. During the last chorus performed by children, a boy standing in the center of the first row caught the audience's attention. With dark brown skin, prominent nose and brooding eyes, he was singing a famous song Bathed in Brilliant Sunshine in fluent Chinese with his classmates, which won waves of applause from the audience. He is a Pakistani student from Class 1 of Grade 3 at the primary school affiliated to Henan Agricultural University, whose Chinese name is Zhang Ruien.
"I love my school!" Zhang told Henan Daily in fluent Mandarin, "I have a lot of friends here. We study and play together. And I want to stay here forever."
In September 2017, Zhang came to Henan with his father, mother and younger brother. As sojourners, the Pakistani family have been to many countries including the United States, Germany, France, Switzerland, Italy, Poland, etc. They settled in Zhengzhou 4 years ago when Zhang's father Nadeem Tahir was hired as a professor at the School of Mechanical and Electrical Engineering, Henan Agricultural University.
Both Zhang and his younger brother are studying at the affiliated primary school. Why didn't Tahir choose an international school for his sons? He said, "Chinese culture is profound. My kids can better their Chinese and understand well traditional Chinese culture and virtues passed down for thousands of years in public primary schools."
Zhang has made great efforts to learn Chinese. He will use translating software when coming across new characters, and then write them down for memorization. "Now Zhang can use Chinese well in daily communication. He often performs actively in class and has got excellent academic records in all subjects." Zhang's class adviser told Henan Daily.
At Zhang's home, there is a blue folder full of award certificates of him and his brother, such as Straight-A Student, Excellent Homework, Course Leader, etc., which made the family very proud. On June 1 this year, Zhang was rewarded the title of Model Youth for Self-discipline in Jinshui District.
When first arriving in Henan, they encountered inconveniences due to language barrier. "The people here are kind and caring, and always reach out to us, so we don't feel home is far away." Tahir said, "To better integrate into Chinese society, all my families are studying Chinese. We live in Henan and we love China!"
On traditional Chinese holidays, Zhang's mother will learn from the school staff to make classic Chinese food, such as zongzi (stuffed glutinous rice balls wrapped with reeds or bamboo leaves) and jiaozi. Besides, they have learned how to use chopsticks. "I like noodles, especially the tasty local stewed noodles!" Zhang gave a thumbs-up.
The Yellow River Scenic Area is the place his family haunts most. "We have also been to Shaolin Temple, Fuxi Mountain and other scenic spots in Henan. Now, since the COVID-19 has been brought under control in China, we plan to visit Shanghai Disneyland during the summer vacation." Tahir told Henan Daily.
When it came to the COVID-19, Tahir praised that, "China's response to the COVID-19 pandemic is impressive. My wife and I got a second shot of COVID-19 vaccine two weeks ago, feeling great. Now, China is the safest country in the world and I think western countries should learn from China on how to control the spread of COVID-19."
During the pandemic, they stood firmly with the Chinese people, recorded a "cheer up" video and donated 6,000 yuan to the Charity Federation of Henan Province.
This year marks the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of China. Tahir said that over the past 100 years, China has won more and more supporters and companions in the world, which is the result of the unremitting efforts of the Chinese people under the leadership of the Communist Party of China. "I wish China a better future and hope the friendship between China and Pakistan will be as strong as an iron tower, just like the implication of my Chinese name Zhang Tieta (Tieta means iron tower in Chinese)."
今年是中国共产党建党一百年，塔希尔教授说，100年来，中国在全球赢得了越来越多的支持者和同行者，这是中国共产党领导中国人民不懈奋斗的成果，“我祝愿中国越来越好。希望中巴友谊像我的中文名字——张铁塔一样，‘铁哥们儿’般的友情永远牢固不破。”（中文来源/河南日报 翻译/赵汉青 海报/实习生王君艺 审校/丁岚）