As an ancient Chinese poem reads, “If you have a friend after who knows your heart, distance cannot keep you two apart.” Although the COVID-19 epidemic has prevented us from meeting offline, the exchanges continued. At 8:00 p.m. on August 13, Beijing time, 12 overseas youths from six sister and friendship cities including Asan in South Korea, Campinas in Brazil, Barcelos in Portugal, Pančevo in Serbia, Kryvyi Rih in Ukraine, Maringá in Brazil and two young representatives from Dongguan gathered online for the 2021 Dongguan Sister City Link Youth Virtual Salon which is hosted by the Dongguan Foreign Affairs Bureau and co-organized by the Dongguan Education Bureau. They introduced their beautiful hometowns to each other and exchanged opinions on the responsibilities and commitment of the younger generation under the global anti-epidemic cooperation.
Mr. Liu Dun, Chief of International Relations Section, Dongguan Foreign Affairs Bureau, gave a welcome speech and expressed that countries may be designated by borders but the human spirit does not require a passport to work together. While we live in an age rife with challenges and opportunities, he was expecting to hear more youth’s voice and saw their spirits and actions in these special times.
Huang Shangjia from Dongguan Foreign Languages School presented Dongguan as a thriving city by showing the CBD, the subway, basketball culture, ancient villages, and local cuisine to friends in sister and friendship cities. The overseas representatives also showed around the great views of their cities, and detailed places of interest, local cuisine, traditional culture, major industries and economic development. The hot spring and ginkgo street introduced by the representative of Asan made everyone experience the charm of nature; the representative of Kryvyi Rih showed the similarities among cultures between China and Kryvyi Rih, like the Chinese warriors and Cossacks, conveying the love for the Chinese culture and the hope to establish a closer relationship with Dongguan. The communication promoted the understanding and friendship between the young people.
At present, a new wave of epidemics is threatening our life, and countries all over the world are facing new challenges. Young people from all over the world are also paying attention to and thinking about how to contribute to the fight against the epidemic. Wang Jiaying, another representative from Dongguan, sharing touching moments and pictures during the anti-epidemic period. By telling the moving stories of the busy Dongguan medical staffs and the supporting movement to Wuhan, Wang showed the determination and selflessly love of Dongguan people in the fight against the epidemic. She was proud of the city and aware of that young people should shoulder their own responsibilities. Under the actual situation of the fight against the epidemic in their hometown, the youths in the sister and friendship cities actively shared their thoughts that what young people can do in this special time, and actively make suggestions such as actively following epidemic prevention requirements, getting vaccinated, being volunteers and helping to explain epidemic prevention measures to others, they also concerned the related issues like open dialogue and fight with science and technology power.
In the discussion segment, the representatives had a lively discussion on topics related to herd immunity. The representative from Campinas said that after more and more people were vaccinated in her city, she noticed that the growth in confirmed cases slowed and the confirmed number in a day has been less than the previous day. She was deeply impressed by the mutual help between countries, and especially thanked China for helping her countries, like supporting them with anti-epidemic materials and vaccines, and sharing anti-epidemic experience. After the meeting, the Dongguan representative said, “I learned a lot from it. The clear mind and broad vision of the foreign friends impressed me deeply and made me consider what I can do more at the anti-epidemic fight.”
He also expressed that it is a unique and valuable experience for him. “This time I know a lot of cities that I didn't know before. I hope that the exchanges between the sister and friendship cities will be continuously expanded and even more cities can join us. As part of the community with a shared future for mankind, young people in the new era should assume social responsibility and play an exemplary role. It is a really wonderful platform for us.”
Although the people of Dongguan and its sister and friendship cities are far apart, this event breaks geographical barriers and provides an online communication platform for young people from all over the world. It is of great significance to strengthen the cultural and friendship exchanges between youths in the sister and friendship cities.