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International youth feel history and friendship in Yan’an
By:Wang Jiaye  |  From:english.eastday.com  |  2021-07-22 16:57

39 teenagers from 16 nations, including Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Turkey, Russia, Sweden, the United Kingdom, the United States and Australia, recently went on a two-day trip to Yan'an, Northwest China's Shaanxi Province, experiencing local folk culture, doing farm work in a rural area and tracing the connections between the Communist Party of China (CPC) with international figures here in the 1930s and 1940s.

The trip was part of the 16th Shanghai International Youth Interactive Friendship Camp which opened on July 13.

[Campers are passing by a former site of the residence in Liangjiahe. ]

These Chinese and foreign campers saw rural development and experienced the building of silt dams in Liangjiahe village where Xi Jinping and 14 other Beijing youths spent difficult and unforgettable years in the 1960s and 1970s.

Nowadays, the infrastructure, medical care, education, and other public services here have been largely improved, according to Kang Wanhong with the Liangjiahe Training Institute.

[Japanese camper Tomonari (right) is shovelling earth with Indian camper Aryan.]

Japanese boy Tomonari, aged 17, said he was happy to be closer to nature in Yan'an. Lisa, a 13-year-old Ukrainian girl, who is one of the youngest campers this year, felt the same way, saying, “I like the mountains, water, and trees here.”

[Campers are tamping soil.]

Malaysian camper Emmanuel, aged 14, expressed his hope that they would have more time to practice, who hit soil with his group members.

[Malaysian camper Emmanuel (second from right) and his group members are displaying dumplings or Jiaozi that they have just made. ]

In Yangjialing, the campers came across a dozen students from Shandong University of Technology and had a very happy talk. These young people even set up a chat group.

Yangjialing is the former site of the central committee of the CPC in the 1930s and 1940s, where American writer Anna Louise Strong interviewed Mao Zedong in 1946.

Actually, many foreigners from all around the world left their footprints in Yan'an, such as Canadian surgeon Norman Bethune, American journalist Edgar Parks Snow and German-born Ashkenazi Jewish physician Hans Müller. They introduced China's national conditions in an objective and fair attitude, helped Chinese people resist aggression and win liberation, as well as advocated for friendly cooperation between China and foreign countries.

[Campers are listening to the stories of Dr Bethune in Yangjialing.]

[A camper viewing a display board about the foreign friends with connection to Yan'an in the Yan'an Revolutionary Memorial Hall.]

“Yan'an is amazing. I think my favorite activity in the camp is the trip to Yan'an,” said Swedish girl Isabel, aged 17, who has been living in Shanghai for 3 years.

She noted the trip showed the legacy of what the CPC did during the Second World War, which provided her with a better understanding of the country's history.

She believes that “it's important to know how different countries have developed, especially how they intersect with international communities.”

[Swedish girl Isabel (right in the front row) is studying “Nanniwan”, a folk song of Yan'an, with other campers.]

Russian Liza has been in Shanghai since she was 1 year old, and said, “I feel myself more like a Chinese when living in a cave dwelling (a typical house in northern Shaanxi Province), eating rice cakes and making dumplings in Yan'an.”

It is the first time for her to hear about and also come to Yan'an. “But I know President Xi and President Putin are good friends. In Liangjiahe, I learned the story of his participation in labor, which made me feel that as long as you work hard, you will realize your dream.”

Liza will go to university this autumn for a major in visual communication design. She hopes to be engaged in advertisement design or even to be a singer.

[Russian campers Liza (right in the front row) and Maria (left in the front row) are dancing Yangko, a folk dance in North China.]

Another Russian camper Maria said she and her compatriots shared photos and videos in Yan'an every day with their family members and friends. “They think Yan'an is beautiful and want to come to China,” added Liza.

[Campers viewing the “Seeking the Truth from the Facts” stone tablets in the Yan'an Revolutionary Memorial Hall.]

In the eyes of 17-year-old Indian boy Aryan, Yan'an is well urbanized, rather than simply being the mountainous region that he imagined before, adding that, “people here are well-disciplined. They respect the sacrifices the Chinese martyrs made for China.”

[Campers have a bird's eye view of Yan'an from top of the Pagoda Hill. ]

American brothers Andrew, aged 16, and Anthony, aged 13, both took part in the camp.

Andrew believes that the camp has made connections with people from all over the world, and the trip to Yan'an has made him better understand China through the display of its history and culture.

In June this year, the boy, who likes sports and singing, was also engaged in a musical called “Shanghaied” created and performed by the students of the Shanghai American School.

[American camper Andrew (third from left) is playing the waist drum with his friends in Yan'an.]

The Shanghai International Youth Interactive Friendship Camp is hosted by the Shanghai People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries and the Shanghai Youth Federation, and is organized by the Shanghai Youth Center.

Since its launch in 2005, the camp has drawn nearly 1500 young people from about 70 countries and regions. Due to the current pandemic prevention and control, the campers this year are all teenagers residing in Shanghai.

[Campers pose for a group photo in front of the Pagoda Hill. ]

Story by Wang Jiaye

Photos by Lin Chunyue, Wang Jiaye