Thursday, November 30, 2023

Hainan-Sanya, the next international hub for African students

By Laone Mmapula Molapong

Sanya, an island located in the South China Sea that possesses the cleanest air that could be found in the country, is the ultimate gateway for Chinese people and International tourists. In 2017 it was rated as one of the 52 countries to visit by the New York Times. But the island city seems to not be quite popular amongst travellers as only 800 thousand out of a possible 20 million that visited last year were international tourists, while the rest of the visitors were Chinese people. The exquisite island city that boasts with its famous all year tropical weather, different cultures and breathtaking resorts is a magical escape for anyone who loves peace and tranquillity.

The island city possesses the biggest Duty Free shop in the world. A cruise port called Sanya Phoenix International Cruise port situated in the Sanya Phoenix man-made island that has one of the most lavish yachts and the Lost Chambers Aquarium located at the Atlantis Sanya Resort if you love sea animals, which is a home to the majestic beluga whales, enormous sharks, rays and other gentle giants of the sea.

You can also explore the history and culture of Li, Miao and Hui ethnic minority while in Sanya. They have a tourist attraction national cultural heritage site where you can enjoy live dance and musical performances by the tribes, get to witness their unusual performances of nose flutes, games, agriculture, historical sites and a restaurant that caters a mouth-watering succulent local cuisine for tourists.

The weather is beautiful with clear blue skies, humid and green. It is no wonder the Island currently has over 1600 people who are living beyond the age of 100 years. The total population of the island city is about 700 000. Like the Dean of school of International Education of Hainan Tropical Ocean University, Niu Jian, he says he used to live in Beijing and when the opportunity arose to go and work in Sanya he grabbed it. “I used to work in Beijing for many years, I came here three years ago because Sanya is a very nice place and it is the most liveable place in China especially during the winter season, it is the best city in China.”

The University has over 40 students from Africa, most of them coming from Comoros, Cape Verde and a small fraction from Zimbabwe. They are expecting 40 more students from Comoros and 2 from Ghana to join them this year. During our university tour we met Ivonilde Oliveira who is an Environmental Engineering student from Cape Verde. A very confident and well spoken 22 year old young woman. During our encounter she indicated that she would like to find employment in China after completing her studies. She cited that she wanted to go back home as soon as she finishes her studies but revealed that things did not look good when she visited her home country in 2017. “The state of my country, the system is not well, there are a lot of changes that need to be done, and some people can change those things for the better. For us who are abroad we have the opportunity to find new ideas. Since then I want to create opportunities for myself, I don’t want to go back home and find another job. I want to bring changes to my country and to do that I need ideas; I need money and some knowledge. So my plan is to take as much as I can from China and take it back home.” She believes Chinese people work more than her people in Cape Verde were she believes people work less. “We need to upgrade our public services and we need young people with ideas, people who can create new things. People want to graduate and find another job, they don’t want to create.” She could not divulge her future plans but said she has a lot of ideas that she cannot share at the moment. She noted that the only challenge she faced when she got to China was the language barrier which she overcame by learning the language for a year and a half before starting her major in Environmental Engineering.

When asking the dean how easy it was for foreigners to find employment in China, he said if one has a Masters degree it shouldn’t be difficult. “What I say is not official but as an individual, what I know is that if our international students and everyone else who wants to stay here to work, they got to have a master’s degree, that’s a pre condition from the latest policy from the central government that intends to build Hainan into a free trade port. If you have the master’s degree you are most welcome to stay here and work full time.”

He said their school is in charge of international student affairs and that apart from education they are in charge of development. Every year they have a Chinese cultural activity which is open to all international students.

The dean noted that they are open to dialogues with more African governments to create scholarship opportunities for students.


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