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Readers' club ignites sports fervor in Ningbo

By Ma Zhenhuan| chinadaily.com.cn| Updated: April 21, 2023 L M S

With the approach of the 19th Asian Games Hangzhou 2022 on Sept 23, the China Daily Readers' Club in Ningbo, Zhejiang province has provided a social glue that holds sports and Chinese culture lovers — both locals and expats — together.

Established in 2021, the China Daily Readers' Club (Ningbo) has been an important platform to help the local expat community experience the pulse of the city's development and better understand Chinese culture.

The third festival for the club was held at Georgia School Ningbo on Thursday, attracting 110 expats from around 20 countries and regions. Teachers and students from the school presented a variety of performances, including kung fu, chorus and dance, at an extravaganza revolving around the Games.

Erdem Ozturk, a businessman from Turkiye, is a big fan of the club.

"I've participated in every fan festival event, and I've made many friends," he said. "Although we come from different countries, we can sing the same song together, as we did today. I'd like to invite more friends to join the club."

Together with seven other foreigners, Ozturk and Nyameko Ishmael Bottoman were granted the title of overseas communication officer at the launching ceremony of the Ningbo readers' club in 2021. Since then, they have been sharing what they feel and experience of China with more people.

"It helps give a better idea of China's traditions and customs and why they are that way," said Bottoman, a college teacher and editor of a bilingual magazine. "I want people who have never been to Ningbo to have a good idea of the kind of people in the city, expats and Chinese."

In celebration of the Asian Games, a running relay was launched at the event. Wang Cengyi, a gold medalist in the 2010 Guangzhou Asian Games, started the first leg of the relay at the Ningbo Olympic Sports Center.

More than 10,000 people have signed up for the relay and over 1,000 expats are expected to attend. They will run through 100 communities and villages in the city and end at the Xiangshan Asian Games Sailing Center, the venue for the sailing competitions of the Games, on April 27.

Pujan Bhandari, a Nepalese student at Ningbo University, said he can feel the speed of the Asian Games through the activities.

A bazaar with various Chinese cultural activities was also held during the festival and became popular with visitors.

Du Yushan is an artisan of rainbow calligraphy, a Chinese ancient art that forms words using colorful Chinese fortune pictures, such as the koi fish, dragon, phoenix and bamboo. He was busy making rainbow calligraphy works for his foreign visitors.

"I've worked for hours. Though it's back-breaking, I'm willing to promote the Chinese art to expats," Du said.

"He drew our names in the different characters, like painting a picture. It was amazing," said Bhandari.