Feature: Two young foreigners' growing paths changed with Chinese investment

Source: Xinhua| 2017-05-06 15:28:13|Editor: Xiang Bo
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by Fei Liena, Qiu Xia

BEIJING, May 6 (Xinhua) -- Six years ago, Vietnamese girl Nguyen Ngoc Anh Thu messed up an important job interview. Ethiopian guy Wen Di was lucky to meet his talent scout.

Though from different countries so far apart, they both encountered their opportunities coming from China.


On April 11, 2011, Nguyen Ngoc Anh Thu attended a job interview from China's Dongfang Electric Corporation (DEC) for the position of Vietnamese-Chinese translator based on the site of the Duyen Hai 1 Thermal Power Plant project in Duyen Hai County of Vietnam's Tra Vinh Province.

DEC's general affairs manager interviewed her in a relaxed manner. Thu, who wanted the job very much, messed up the interview thanks to her nervousness.

"You need to work hard on your Chinese, otherwise it cannot meet our work requirements," the manager told her.

She thought she had missed the opportunity.

Yet suddenly, the manager changed his tone. "However, you are the first woman who is willing to work in such a remote place. I decide to employ you. After all, attitude is the most important."

"DEC is a large state-owned enterprise of China; there will be many Chinese people working with you at the site," said the manager.

"That interview has changed my life," said the Vietnamese girl.

On the African continent five years ago, an Ethiopian guy named Wen Di didn't expect his encounter with a Chinese crane operator would totally change his career path either.

"Around 2012, there were almost no crane operators in Ethiopia. By mere chance, I found this young man who was capable, smart, and even more importantly, steady. Without any hesitation, I recruited him into the crane team I was working with, and thus started our close working relationship," said 56-year-old Yin Jianye, an old hand at the crane team of Ethiopia's GERD-Dedesa-Holeta-Akaki (GDHA) 500KV power transmission and transformation project contracted by the State Grid Corp. of China (SGCC).

Since being "discovered" and made part of the crane team by Yin, Wen Di's enthusiasm for his job has never abated. "This is a very challenging job, and I like challenges," Wen Di said.


After over five hours of riding on bumpy roads, Thu, the Vietnamese girl, finally set foot on the main street of Duyen Hai and was welcomed with a gust of dust. The road was totally worn out.

At that time, the whole town had only one market and three or four shabby restaurants, and no places for entertainment.

At first, Thu couldn't fully understand her Chinese colleagues' words, and found the job quite challenging for a novice. But she always remembered her interviewer's words: "Poor working skills can be improved through hard work and persistent learning. Attitude is the most important."

Day after day, changes occurred through her hard work. Gradually Thu could communicate with her colleagues in Chinese fairly well, and was able to do her job with high proficiency.

Soon she became a "spokeswoman" for DEC in the Duyen Hai area and a local "celebrity," something she had never dreamed of.

The small town of Duyen Hai has experienced an even more dramatic change as the construction of the Duyen Hai 1 project has brought many opportunities to town. Wide, clean streets and modern markets as well as entertainment facilities all emerged in town.

Nowadays, a modern power plant stands at the once sandy and deserted beach, generating electricity for the whole nation of Vietnam. Many locals are recruited by DEC and earn decent salaries; others open karaoke bars, restaurants and hotels to make a living.


In April 2013, Wen Di followed Yin to the GDHA 500KV substation construction project department in Holeta town in Ethiopia's Oromia region.

As he got to know Yin better, Wen Di started to admire his Chinese employer.

"My master is very kind. Even when I do something wrong, he seldom blames me. He does not give me 'special treatment' because I have a different skin color, and we always feel at ease, just like a family," Wen Di said.

"My master's English is not very good. Normally when we encounter technical terms, we mostly communicate using gestures. As time went by, I got to understand what my master was trying to say even if he only uttered one word. I just need to look into his eyes to know my mistake if I do something wrong," said Wen Di.

Under Yin's meticulous training, Wen Di's hoisting skills improved rapidly. During the project's roughly two-year construction period, Wen Di learned the skills needed to handle 15-ton to 30-ton cranes pretty well, achieving the goal of "zero error, zero accident."

"Wen Di has excellently fulfilled the tasks the project department assigns to him. Among the more than 7,000 Ethiopian workers, he is an outstanding employee, and plays an exemplary role in this project," the head of the project department told Xinhua.

In December 2015, the "super project" constructed by the China Power Equipment Corp., a subsidiary of the SGCC, was completed. The project boasts the highest voltage level, the longest transmission distance and the largest construction scale in East Africa, and has become the most important transmission grid in Ethiopia.

"Chinese enterprises come from afar to help us build projects, help us enhance living standards, improve our living quality. Our Chinese friends have done more hard work than us. I will put the skills that I have learned to good use and work hard in order to live up to my master's expectations," Wen Di said, with determination in his eyes.

(Nguyen Ngoc Anh Thu and Tang Zhiyong also contributed to the story.)

KEY WORDS: Belt and Road