Across China: Spring Festival travel rush attracts foreign volunteers
ZHENGZHOU, Feb. 17 (Xinhua) — At Zhengzhou East station, in the capital of Henan Province, an alarm buzzed after a woman inserted her train ticket into the ticket check machine.
“Please stay behind the yellow line,” Mwamba Malama, from Zambia, said in Chinese, while helping the woman to place her ticket in the machine correctly.
Malama, 23, has been studying in the city for two years. He decided to become a railway volunteer to help passengers when the station is busy during the Spring Festival travel rush, known as the “Chunyun.”
“I see the surprised looks on the faces of the travelers, and I feel proud,” he said, As well as offering assistance, he also wanted to witness the magnificence of the Chunyun.
Sadia Rashid, 30, from Pakistan, studies with Malama at North China University of Water Resources and Electric Power. She has also become a volunteer at the station during the Chunyun period.
However, Rashid said she is a little disappointed, “Although there are a lot of people, and everything is in great order, what we volunteers can do is so limited.”
During the 40-day Chunyun period this year, Zhengzhou East station expects to see about 3.6 million passenger trips, 1.44 million more than 2017.
According to Ying Yanli, an official at the station, this is the first time they have recruited foreign volunteers.
The 15 volunteers from different countries are all students and have an average age of 20.
“We hope to offer them a window to understand more about Chinese culture,” Ying said, “since there are more and more foreign passengers, there is also a growing need for foreign language-speaking volunteers.”
In the city of Hunchun in Jilin Province, which borders Russia to the north, Marina Sergeevna, from Russia, has been a volunteer at the high-speed train station during the Chunyun period for the last three years.
“The conditions at the station have been upgraded over the years, and more and more people are choosing to take bullet trains,” she said.
Sergeevna arrived at China seven years ago to study Chinese, and decided to stay in Hunchun after graduation.
With a good command of Russian, English, and Chinese, she has been working at the city’s international talent service and communication center.
She still remembers several years ago traveling from Hunchun to Changchun, the provincial capital, which would take seven or eight hours by car. Now high-speed trains have shortened the travel time to just three hours.
“Many of my Russian friends enjoy traveling across China by high-speed train,” she said, “It’s convenient and comfortable.”
Local government statistics show that every year Russian travelers make nearly 300,000 trips to Hunchun.
Since the city is seeing a growing number of Russian visitors, Sergeevna has been increasingly busy at the train station. She has also been teaching the Chinese staff some simple Russian.
The station has Russian language self-help systems to better serve its Russian passengers.
During this year’s Chunyun period from Feb.1 to March 12, a total of 2.98 billion passenger trips are expected to be made on all forms of transport in China. (From xinhuanet)