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  Rwandan family that call Shandong home  



When Anastase Hagenimana left his home in Rwanda and arrived in China in 1998, all Chinese faces looked the same to him.

He didn't have any friends, and he couldn't speak any Chinese. He couldn't even understand Chinese currency.

When he went shopping he had to take out all his money for shop assistants to pick the right amount.

At that time he was very homesick.

However, after seven years of studying in China, Hagenimana and his family settled last year in a small village in East China's Shandong Province.

Now he has a well-paid job, his daughters go to a local primary school and the family lives in a large apartment.

"I have been totally integrated into the lives of Chinese people," said Hagenimana, 41.

Hagenimana began his graduate study of food science and technology at Southern Yangtze University in East China's Jiangsu Province in 1998.

Thanks to the help of his teachers and classmates, Hagenimana gradually got used to life in China.

In 2000, he brought his wife and daughters to China. After his graduation in 2001, Hagenimana continued to study for a doctorate, which he obtained last year.

Hagenimana said he chose to stay in China mainly for two reasons.

First, he studied starch processing, and China can offer a good environment for his career.

Second, his two daughters had been educated in Chinese for five years, and he was afraid that it would be hard for them to adjust to another education system.

When Hagenimana learned about Xiwang Sugar Holdings Company Limited, he found that their work on corn deep-processing matched his area of study.

Soon after visiting the firm, he was recruited as the head of its technology development centre.

"The reason we employ Hagenimana is that our company needs experts who can do research, and as he has his doctorate in the subject, he is just the person that we need," said Xiwang General Manager Wang Jianxin.

Hagenimana, whose English is far better than his Chinese, was initially afraid that he would have problems communicating with his colleagues. But he later found out that most of them could speak English.

On July 27, 2005, when Hagenimana and his family settled down in Xiwang, a village in Zouping County, the locals held a special ceremony to welcome their new neighbours.

Hagenimana's two daughters are now studying at the Central Primary School in Handian Township, one in the sixth grade and the other in the third grade.

"In the beginning, our schoolmates were very curious, mainly about our skin and plaits, but now we are no longer special, and everybody treats us the same," said Reda, Hagenimana's first daughter.

Reda likes to play the erhu, the two-stringed bowed fiddle, and she is a member of her school's orchestra. Reda said her ideal was to become a professional erhu player.

"I have been in China for six years and China is a very good place for us to stay," said Reda. "Chinese people are friendly, and when Dad chose to live in China I was very excited."





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