Translated By: Mohamad Zreik
An article by a Chinese student studying Arabic in Lebanon, whose Arabic name is Basma, was published today in the Lebanese newspaper al-nidaa. I enjoyed reading the article very much. Basma wrote her article in Arabic and not in Chinese. Her writing style was wonderful, combining narrative and description with many feelings of longing and love for Lebanon. Basma is an example of Chinese students in Lebanon. In her article, Basma expresses the Lebanese society and the beauty of nature and talks about the people who welcome the foreigner.
Due to the importance of this beautiful article, I decided to translate it into English and re-publish it, because it expresses the true image of Lebanese society with the words of a person who is not from Lebanon, meaning that these words are sincere and emanating from personal experience within Lebanese society. Enjoy reading the article below.
The Sun Remains in Lebanon No Matter How Dark
By: Guo Shougben (Basma)
Nine months passed as fast as the dream and I was overwhelmed by my wishes. When the plane back to China took off I felt my heart beating fast and I looked through the window at the buildings where the street lights were shining. Nine months ago, I was in Lebanon looking forward to returning to my country (China), but after my return, I now miss Lebanon. I have many beautiful memories in Lebanon that I will never forget.
I have always enjoyed the beautiful and luscious Lebanese nights. When the sun goes down every day, I remember my beautiful days in Lebanon. For most of my time, I enjoyed the sunset from the balcony of our apartment. When the class ends at the university, I salute the owner of the university cafeteria, who used to prepare for us the most delicious “Mankoucheh”.
The cafeteria's food, next to the Language and Translation Center of the Lebanese University, was delicious and cheap at the same time. The more I remember the taste of “Half Cheese - Half Meat Mankoucheh”, I felt like eating again. How I wish to travel back to Lebanon to enjoy this delicious food! As for traditional Chinese food, I had to learn how to prepare it myself. But, frankly, I could not at first, because the foods I prepared were not delicious. But over time and with repeated attempts, the quality of food has progressed remarkably. When I learned a lot of Northern Chinese cooking skills (I am from South China, Chinese cuisine varies in different regions), my Lebanese friends were invited to our apartment to enjoy the Chinese food I prepared for them, to share with them a component of our Chinese culture.
Our apartment was located in New Rawda, Beirut, and we were living in a high building. Although the horizon of the sky is limited from the balcony of our apartment and I cannot see the sea from there, but that scene has long fascinated me and calmed me down. I adore how the wind spans between the pink clouds. I loved to sit on the balcony, reading or chatting or smelling the smell of the delicious grilled meat from the balcony of our neighbors.
Since my first day in Lebanon, and because I could only see a small part of the sky from the balcony, I went to enjoy the sunset scene by the harbor. I will not forget my feelings then when the wide blue sea appeared before my eyes. It was the first time I saw the sea, because I live in a rural area in China. Many ships lay near the port and some return to it. Many people sit there, feeding fish. I tried to get close to the people around me and talk to them. They were Lebanese, tourists and others who came from different countries to work in Lebanon. From that day on, I liked to walk on the beach, especially at the Raoucheh Corniche, so that the bright sun would fill my face. I would smile as the faces of the people around me rose; the teenagers swimming in the sea without worries, and fishing enthusiasts practice their hobby, forgetting the noise of the city. I was able to get to know new friends and learn about their cultures.
As for Harissa, there is the Virgin Mary Shrine, called “Mother of Lebanon” because she overlooks the sunset in the bay of Jounieh, looking at the sea and the whole city from her eyes. She shines with its lit candles outside the church and shines by the dark light reflected from afar. The sunset carries our joyful wishes like those candles.
The moment of sunset in the city of Byblos is romantic. Byblos combines the heritage of the ancient civilization and the modern development, and has a beautiful nature along the coast, which attracts tourists from around the world, especially the youth. Lovers hugging by the sea shore, where the waves hit the rocks and the water rushing on the ground and the lovers escape with joyful laughter.
The town of Anfe is different from Byblos; it is quieter compared to large cities where its inhabitants live quietly away from the noise. This charming town is famous for its white and blue buildings, which symbolize the sea and the sky. Many fishing enthusiasts enjoy the sea until they return to their homes with their fresh fish. Is there anything more beautiful than to practice your hobbies and enjoy the spectacular sight at the same time?!
The sunset is no less beautiful and attractive in mountainous areas. You can enjoy the sunset and the snow at the same time during the month of May in the town of Bcharre, especially in the Cedar Forest. One day I went there wearing my favorite skirt and wandered into the winding corridor inside the forest, where the snow covered the ground. I noticed that people in the town of Bcharre loved roses a lot, planting them in their homes and on public streets. You can see multicolored flowers and shapes almost everywhere in Bcharre. Although I have visited Bcharre three times, I have not yet visited the Gebran Museum, unfortunately. How I wish I could enjoy the sunset there, imagining myself sitting on the long bench outside the museum, which I saw in the picture, looking at the red-tiled houses and the sun that falls behind the mountains of snow.
At first I felt lonely and sad after arriving in Lebanon because of the strange environment and distance from my family. But whenever my eyes look at the sunset, all these negative emotions fade away. Throughout my stay in Lebanon, the sunset was a witness to the moments I enjoyed, how I began to rely on myself when I encountered difficulties, how I learned to find and create beautiful details in normal life and appreciate current life.
In Lebanon, you can see the Lebanese and others who live in this country, tourists, workers or refugees, some from rich countries and others from poor countries, some of them from the rich or middle class, others from the poor and the oppressed, who are united under the same sun.
I am now in China, recalling my memories in Lebanon with its people, its beautiful landscapes, and even in my dreams, these memories are still present. I am talking about Lebanon to my family and friends with great happiness, and I promise to bring them to visit this beautiful country.
* Mohamad Zreik is a PhD candidate at the School of Politics and International Studies (SPIS), Central China Normal University, Wuhan, Hubei, China. His research focuses on the One Belt One Road initiative and the Chinese presence in the Middle East, especially in Lebanon.
* Guo Shougben (Basma) is a Chinese student studying Arabic in Lebanon.