URUMQI, Sept. 24 (Xinhua) -- Sun Lei, a teacher from Beijing, is in her fourth year in an educational assistance program in northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. Rather than returning to the bustling metropolis, she later welcomed her husband, who also volunteered to join her in this Xinjiang endeavor.
"What talent Xinjiang needs, we nurture them," said Sun, who signed up for the program to support Xinjiang's educational cause in 2019, even though her twin daughters were just four months old at the time.
China has been implementing "pairing assistance" programs in Xinjiang since 1997, channeling financial, technical, and human resource support in various fields to Xinjiang from 19 other provincial-level regions in the country.
Over the past decade, more than 130 high-level universities from these regions have invested 27.1 billion yuan (about 3.8 billion U.S. dollars) in the program to improve education in Xinjiang. Over 5,671 projects have been implemented to dispatch elite teachers like Sun to Xinjiang.
Sun is a professor at Beijing Foreign Studies University, while in Xinjiang she works at the China University of Petroleum -- Beijing at Karamay (CPUBK). Her responsibilities include developing the school's Russian language major, advancing its philosophy and social science disciplines, and assisting in the establishment of a research institute.
"In theory, I could have returned to Beijing after a year or even six months," Sun said. "I had never expected to be here for four years."
CPUBK is a relatively new institution. When the Russian language major was in its infancy, there were only four young teachers to handle the entire curriculum, with each teacher having a workload exceeding 400 teaching hours per year.
With no complaints, Sun and her team worked to recruit teaching staff and established workshops for improving teaching and research capabilities. She also fostered a mentorship program that pairs younger teachers with more senior mentors to improve their teaching capabilities.
To capitalize on the university's strengths, Sun developed a talent cultivation model combining the Russian language with petroleum studies. Graduates of this program are highly sought after by employers.
Her efforts have elevated the research level of the Russian language major at the university, resulting in the publication of over 30 research papers, as well as the initiation of one national-level academic project and four provincial-level projects. She also assisted in establishing the Tianshan Research Institute, a comprehensive think tank platform for attracting more high-level talents.
With Sun's husband having recently made the decision to leave Beijing to join her education endeavors as a teacher, their family is now even more determined to continue supporting and developing Xinjiang.
"There is still much work to be done here, I can't leave, and I don't want to leave," Sun said. "That's why I extended my program for another year."
Over the years, tens of thousands of outstanding teachers, like Sun, have volunteered to assist education in Xinjiang, making significant contributions to the region's educational development.
"Students need me, Xinjiang needs me, and I take pride in the fact that my life's value can be better realized here," Sun said.