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Foreign students see appeal of Yangpu Waterfront
By:Wang Jiaye  |  From:english.eastday.com  |  2021-07-12 09:50

“I've been in Shanghai for six years, though this is my first time to come to the Yangpu Waterfront. I feel it's very nice and I hope to come again,” said Silem Abdselam, an Algerian student, as he walked along the riverside. This year, he will graduate from Shanghai University with a doctorate in Applied Mathematics.

Roughly a dozen foreign students from 9 countries who study at Shanghai University, including Silem, recently paid a visit to a traditional Chinese crafts exhibition featuring the country's intangible cultural heritages, and went on a stroll along the Yangpu Waterfront in the vicinity.

It was the first of a series of activities for expats in town, organized by the Shanghai People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries and the Shanghai Intangible Cultural Heritage Protection Center.

(Maoma Warehouse along the riverside in Yangpu District)

The tour started from the exhibition held at the Maoma Warehouse which used to be a cotton mill founded a century ago, and became an art space in 2019.

Bangladeshi girl Akter Liza took a careful look at the utensils on display, saying, “I didn't know before that there were such kinds of works in China. They are really beautiful.” The senior, majoring in human resource management, is preparing for her postgraduate education. “I hope to keep staying in Shanghai.”

(Foreign students are watching the exhibits.)

(Foreign students pose for a group photo in front of a Mongolian yurt.)

During the interactive session, they learned how to make straw patchwork from He Chaoying, an inheritor of the intangible cultural heritage.

(Foreign students are making straw patchwork.)

Flattening, stroking, clipping... It's not easy for beginners to make straw patchwork. But everyone was doing it earnestly and happily. Ahmed Abdeltawab Elsayed, an engineering doctoral student from Egypt was the first to complete his artwork.

(Ahmed Abdeltawab Elsayed shows his artwork, a cute rabbit.)

The activity took place one day before the centenary of the Communist Party of China (CPC). Foreign students arrived at the former site of S.M.R. Wharf on Qinhuangdao Road. Around the 1920s, more than 650 students including top CPC leaders Zhou Enlai, Deng Xiaoping and Nie Rongzhen, departed here for France, embarking on a voyage of saving the nation and its people.

(Foreign students are listening to the story about S.M.R. Wharf.)

(Foreign students pose for a group photo in front of a relief sculpture at the former site of S.M.R. Wharf.)

Yangpu Waterfront is one of the cradles of modern industrial civilization in China. UNESCO called it “the largest riverside industrial belt in the world”. In recent years, a large number of industrial relics have been renovated in the Yangpu riverside area, transforming the former “industrial rust belt” into a “cultural and recreational belt” for the people.

(Chung and Saciid Cabdi Isgoowe Subow pose for a photo at the riverside.)

Chung from Tonga is studying in her freshman year for a major in Business Administration. She said that there are many differences between Shanghai and her hometown, namely, technology makes life here very convenient while the natural scenery back home is amazing. Chung picked up a small flower along the riverside and put it behind her ear.

Taking Yangpu Bridge and blue sky as the background, Somali student Sacid Cabdi Isgoowe Subow photographed the remaining old wall of “No.1 Lanzhou Road”. “He wants to share these photos with his compatriot, who went home last winter vacation and has been unable to return due to the pandemic,” said Li Yin, counselor of the international students at the university.

Japanese student Jiyuhiro Amami is fluent in Chinese, in part due to studying the language in Japan for four years before he arrived in Shanghai. What impressed him most about the city is the warmth and friendliness of the people, saying that “when I first came here, I didn't know how to buy tickets on the machine. People nearby offered to help me.”

The People's Urban Planning Exhibition Hall was originally the site of the Xiangtai timber company. This semi-open wooden structure uses digital technology to tell the practical cases of Shanghai's construction of a beautiful city, and to show the past, present and future of Yangpu Waterfront.

(Foreign students learn about the development of the riverside industrial belt by watching short films and models in the sunken exhibition area.)

Liber Simón and Georgina Marcela come from Uruguay and both of them are postgraduate students in Global Studies. Liber admires the city's development concept, noting that “it is amazing to see how the zone next to the river was built and the blend between history and modernity.”

“The activity was enjoyable,” said Georgina, adding that the walk along the riverside gave them the chance to see the city's evolution.

(Foreign students and their counselor pose for a group photo with the organizing staff in front of the People's Urban Planning Exhibition Hall.)

Story by Wang Jiaye

Photos by Guo Shenglin and Wang Jiaye