“Can you teach me Chinese?” asked Samuel Abikunda, who was dressed in an Arsenal shirt, fluent in Chinese and English and skilled in using WeChat, Alipay Didi Chuxing apps. He gave the impression of a modest and studious, funny and talkative young man.
In 2007, as one of the top five best students in Rwanda, Samuel won a joint scholarship and came to study in China after completing his high school education. In 2014, he graduated from North China Electric Power University in Beijing with a Master’s Degree in Power System and Automation.
Samuel attends the graduation ceremony in North China Electric Power University in Beijing. [Photo by courtesy of Samuel/Qianlong]
Samuel adapted quickly to the life in Beijing when he newly came to Beijing for study. With the help of tutors and teachers, he completed his studies successfully and he also served as vice president of the international student union at school. He actively participated in many extracurricular activities such as debates, speech contests, football matches and crosstalk and sketch contests.
Looking back upon those competitions, he still remembers the help from his teachers. They instructed him to correct pronunciation and helped him polish speech with great patience. “I think the campus life in those years is the best time I have had so far,” Samuel said.
Now the teachers and classmates have become Samuel’s friends in life and sometimes they play football together or have gatherings at home. As the Teachers’ Day was approaching, Samuel said, “My classmates and I just finished making a video these days and we plan to send it to our teacher as a teachers’ day gift.” He said he will go to attend a classmate party at his teacher’s home at the weekend.
After graduation in 2014, Samuel was recruited by China Poly Group and he had become the first ever foreign employee in Poly Group since the foundation of the company in 1999.
Samuel (2nd R) is seen at work. [Photo by courtesy of Samuel/Qianlong]
In the company, Samuel serves as project manager and is mainly responsible for the projects in Africa. Owing to his professional knowledge, diligence and hard work, he has successfully led his team to complete more than 50 projects in 23 countries. “Working with Chinese colleagues can be demanding and challenging, but it’s also interesting and exciting,” he said. In the beginning, he struggled to get used to Chinese working environment and culture, and he finally made it and got along well with his colleagues.
In 2016, Samuel was invited to spend Spring Festival at a colleague’s home in Zhuozhou of Hebei. Staying there for a week and he truly experienced the hospitality of Chinese people. He got drunk on the first night and had a deep impression of the traditional Chinese custom of visits during the Spring Festival. “In our country, we usually shake hands when people meet for the first time, but here people give cigarettes instead. When in China, do as the Chinese do, I accepted them all,” Samuel recalled happily. At present, the colleague’s mother has become a “Chinese Mom” to Samuel. They often chat or send red packets on WeChat.
Reviewing his ten years of school and working life in Beijing, Samuel said that now his life is different and it is busier than before as he has changed from an international student to an employee of a fortune global 500 enterprise in Beijing. But for now, he is still willing to stay in Beijing.
“Beijing is a large international city with inclusiveness and more and more foreigners come to China. As one of them, I feel glad to meet and know more people and things from all over the world. In Beijing, I have not only learned professional knowledge, but also learned how to interact and get along with people,” he said. “In the future, I will probably return to Rwanda, as an old Chinese saying goes, ‘Fallen leaves return to the roots — to revert to one’s origin’.”
Samuel (L) takes part in the Chinese competition for international students in Beijing. [Photo by courtesy of Samuel/Qianlong]
Samuel (2nd right, first row) takes part in a football match in Beijing. [Photo by courtesy of Samuel/Qianlong]
Samuel (R) takes a photo with his teacher in Beijing. [Photo by courtesy of Samuel/Qianlong]
Samuel (1st left, back row) takes a photo with his colleagues. [Photo by courtesy of Samuel/Qianlong]
Samuel (R) takes a photo with “Chinese Mom”. [Photo by courtesy of Samuel/Qianlong]