YINCHUAN, Feb. 17 (Xinhua) -- Spring Festival is the time for family reunion for Chinese. Essam Ahamed, a Sudanese student in China, also feels at home through participating in a series of activities, though he has not seen his parents for two years.
With a dumpling wrapper in hand, the young man carefully filled it with meat stuffing. "It's my first time making dumplings. It is quite challenging, but we had a lot of fun chatting and working together," Ahamed said in fluent Chinese.
Ahamed is a second-year postgraduate in business administration at Ningxia University in Yinchuan, capital of northwest China's Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region. To avoid getting infected by the COVID-19 virus, some 40 international students of the university chose to stay on campus during the holiday.
To enrich their lives, the university has organized activities such as skiing, playing table tennis, making dumplings, writing Chinese characters on Spring Festival couplets with brush pens, and learning traditional paper-cutting for the international teachers and students.
"We went out for skiing last week, and also took part in activities like making dumplings and paper-cutting," Ahamed said. "We feel very happy since we can get together through these activities. It is very warm like we are a big family."
Nitesh Singh and his wife Sucharita Kundu from India have been teaching computer programming at the university since 2017. In the university's activities, they have learned how to make the perfect dumpling.
"Yinchuan is a quiet city with a small population, so it's very comfortable to live here, and we can slow down and enjoy life," Singh said.
The couple has been in China since the COVID-19 outbreak. Prior to the epidemic, Sucharita Kundu brought her parents to live with them.
"We have many lessons and extra-curricular activities. During holidays, we explore museums, libraries and art galleries," said Singh.
Singh has been worrying about his parents in India and keeps in touch with them every day. "China brought the epidemic under control very quickly, and our lives went back to normalcy due to the efficient measures," Singh said.
There are more than 170 international students at the university, and some of them could not return to campus due to the pandemic. Teachers have rescheduled the classes to make sure each of them can follow classes through an online teaching platform.
"The pandemic is still serious globally. Ningxia is a low-risk area, and experiencing traditional Chinese culture here will be an unforgettable memory for our international teachers and students," said Li Xing, Party chief of the university.
Ahamed learned Chinese in Egypt where he earned his bachelor's degree. After that, he came to China to work as a Chinese-Arabic translator for two years. He decided then that translating was not enough for him and he returned to school to gain further education.
He used to return home or travel around China with friends during holidays. Due to COVID-19, he has been staying in Ningxia. He said his parents had worried about him at the beginning and urged him to go back, but soon they felt relieved thanks to China's efficient measures.
"Now Sudan has some cases, and my two brothers are in the United States, so I often share with them some methods to avoid getting infected and persuade them to wear masks," he said.
"Teachers are on duty for 24 hours a day. We can go out whenever we need if we complete an application procedure, so our daily life is very convenient," Ahamed said.
Li said the university will make every effort to ensure international teachers and students spend a happy and warm holiday. "I hope they learn more about Chinese culture and become the envoy for international exchanges."