HAIKOU, Sept. 9 -- A Kazakh student has won acclaim at home and in China after being praised in a speech by Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Tulenov Ruslan, who is studying at Hainan University, in south China's island province of Hainan, was lauded by Xi for his frequent blood donations as the president spoke on Friday at Nazarbayev University in Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan.
Xi, who was in Kazakhstan for a state visit, noted Ruslan's rare blood type and said the young man has contributed to the elimination of diseases for some Chinese people.
Seated with his classmates watching the TV broadcast of the speech, Ruslan couldn't have been more surprised that Xi told his story.
"What I did is nothing great. I didn't expect the president to mention me," he said. "I feel honored to have become an envoy for the China-Kazakhstan friendship. I will tell the news to my mom!"
Ruslan is in the third year of a degree in business administration at Hainan University.
His Chinese adventure started with a solo trip in 2008, when Hainan's tropical and exotic scenery so charmed him that he was inspired to pursue further studies on the island.
The 21-year-old, who gave himself the Chinese name "Lan Tian," meaning "blue sky," was finally admitted for undergraduate study at Hainan University in 2011 after spending two years learning Chinese at the university's international cultural exchange school.
Ruslan impressed his classmates as a sunny and cheerful peer who loves cycling and playing basketball and gives free English classes at primary schools.
But his friends could never have known that Ruslan carries RH-negative blood, a variety unusual enough to be highly valued by hospital blood banks. Nor did Ruslan himself know what was running through his veins until he was notified by a Chinese nurse during an on-campus blood donation, after which he started regular blood donations.
"I didn't know how rare my blood was back in my country, but here I realized that a lot of people need the blood. I just want to try my best to help them," he explained.
Zhou Hongtao, director of foreign student office at the university's international cultural exchange school, where Ruslan learned Chinese, said Ruslan is a passionate and friendly student who has taken an active part in various school activities.
Zhou said Kazakh students take up a fairly large proportion of overseas intake since Hainan University started to recruit students from Kazakhstan in 2009. Of the current 200-plus overseas students on campus, 26 are from Kazakhstan.
Like many of his Kazakh friends who have stayed in Hainan after graduation, generally working as hotel managers or serving in government foreign affairs departments, Ruslan is thinking of remaining on the island after graduation, too.
"I will graduate from college after another two years. If I can find a good job, I would like to stay because I'm used to the life here," he said.
"I hope I can continue to the friendship between the two countries."