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Thoughts on some special Chinese work experience: CAS PIFI

Rafiq Hamdi

Under the framework of the Chinese Academy of Sciences President’s International Fellowship Initiative (CAS PIFI) project, I had the chance to stay in China for two months. This period allowed me to discover, for the first time of my life, Chinese people and the Chinese culture. Firstly, I was impressed by the hospitality of the professors and PhD students with whom I worked. I was also deeply impressed by the positive attitude of the postgraduates and PhD students who attended my lectures on regional climate modeling and urban heat island studies. They are very smart and always ready to explore new scientific questions. They worked very hard even during the later night and weekends, and could finish their work in a very short time. For this reason, I think they are more competitive. The PhD students were always present to help me with administrative matters but not only that - they also invited me for dinner or to go visiting some nice places in Urumqi, capital of Northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, or elsewhere in the region. 

The cooperation and relationships in a team play a significant role in scientific projects. A team with effective cooperation and positive relationships between team members can conquer all challenges and always be productive. Working with this kind of team in China was an exciting and positive experience for me. For example, I discussed our simulations and proposed some solutions, new simulation plans, and/or some new ideas each morning, and then each member would focus on their own directions. They would present their work or results the next morning! Then we would discuss and analyze the new results and questions, and try to find new solutions. Every day we repeated this process and it drove our research forward! I thought it would take two years to finish the research before I came to China. In fact, it took only around eight months! Without this efficient teamwork, we could not have achieved it. 

I really enjoyed working with Professor Luo Geping and his three PhD students Miao, Lily, and Peng. His PhD students are very talented and always challenging me with their very intelligent questions about ALARO or SURFEX. When I came to Urumqi for the first time in 2016 and presented my lecture about ALARO, I said to the students that my dream is to be able to run ALARO in the region and study the local circulations and their interactions. With the help of Professor Luo and his PhD students and after some years, I am, I hope, now familiar with all local atmospheric local circulations. The region is a very interesting study area which challenges the ALARO and SURFEX performances. 

I liked Xinjiang very much for the hospitable people, delicious food, beautiful geographical scenery and landscapes, and unique culture! With the help of the students and my colleagues in the Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography, CAS, I visited some places in Xinjiang such as the desert, Tianchi Lake, Tianshan Mountains, the glaciers in the high mountain section, and the beautiful and adventurous Duku road! These places are very special for me and impressed me so much! I can remember every moment I spent in Xinjiang! So Xinjiang was not only my study area, but also my second hometown. 

I must admit I learned a lot here, not only from the results of my project but also about human relationships and the different cultures that can co-exist, live and interact with each other inside China. The best way to learn about China is to come and work in China. I’m sure that you will make new discoveries about this very old yet very modern country!