We are waves of the same sea, leaves of the same tree, flowers of the same garden.
---Lucius Annaeus Seneca
Recently, a letter from China moved the citizens of Pescara, a city in Italy:
"Dear friends of NETF Culture Exchange Center and people in Italy,
Greetings from Beijing! We know from the news that COVID-19 is attacking Italy and has brought you a lot of troubles. We understand what you are going through, because that is exactly what we have just experienced. Here, we would like to share with you how we spent that period.
First of all, cheer up! Do wear a mask when you go out, and avoid gathering in public spaces. Wash your hands frequently. We believe we will tide this over soon! Though we cannot visit each other now due to the spread of the virus, we can still make friends in a different way. We want to be your good friends, and we believe you feel the same way.
---Little friends from the China Soong Ching Ling Science & Culture Center, and many more children in China who care about you"
11-year-old Xu Hang was quite concerned about the business of his family's Chinese restaurant in Italy. "My name is Xu Hang, and I am from Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province. I hope everything will go back to normal soon." He cheered himself and all Chinese kids up in his reply.
10-year-old Pan Jiaqi replied to the letter with a rainbow she drew, meaning that the virus will be defeated eventually and tomorrow will be better.
11-year-old Annie and 10-year-old Anna are two sisters. They drew a heart-shaped rainbow together to say hello to their new friends in Beijing.
After the teacher read the letter to 5-year-old Chen Yirou, the kid said clearly and firmly, "Defeat the virus! Go China! Go Italy!"
Pescara is a beautiful ancient coastal city in Italy. Gianni, Chairman of NETF Culture Exchange Center in Italy was the first one who saw this letter. At that time, he was busy using drones to help with local epidemic prevention and control. In late March, when he received the letter, he was quite thrilled. That night, he replied to the letter by e-mail:
"Dear little friends in Beijing and in China,
Greetings! I am your friend Gianni. To me, China is like a second home, and I am really thankful for your incredibly beautiful letter to your new friends. Your new friends are kids in NETF Chinese School, and also all kids in Italy!"
On April 12, IL Sole-24 ORE in Italy and Economic Daily in China co-published a special issue on the combat against COVID-19, which contained the story about the letter between Chinese and Italian children and 7 paintings drawn by Chinese children.
Gianni was very excited when he read the newspaper. The mayor of Pescara Carlo Masci said he was impressed by the letter, "They have set a good example for us adults." He mentioned in an interview by Economic Daily on April 17. When children were forced to stay at home, they tried their best to enjoy it in their own way. The optimism and hope shown in the letter is something only the kids can see.
Carlo said it was not easy for people of Pescara to stay at home in spring, because they have the long-standing custom to visit beaches and woods at this time of year. "But to win this hard battle, the only thing we can rely on is the expertise of doctors and the patience and cooperation of all citizens."
"The mayor of Fuzhou sent masks and suggested that we distribute them to citizens of Pescara. I am really thankful to Fuzhou." Carlo believed that the exchanges between children of the two countries deepened the friendship between China and Italy.
A letter from afar
In 2019, Gianni visited China together with a delegation from Italy and forged a strong bond with the China Soong Ching Ling Science & Culture Center. On February 1, Gianni sent a WeChat message to Li Shufang, Director of the Preschool Education Department of the Center, "Please let me know if there is anything I can help with."
When Gianni came to China for the first time 5 years ago, he was fascinated by what he saw. He fell in love with this amazing country and founded a Chinese school in Pescara with Chen Qun when he returned home. Gianni had been planning for a summer camp in 2020, to take those Chinese children who were born in Italy but have never been to China to visit this charming country.
But the breakout of the epidemic upset his plan. Gianni was quite concerned with the situation of Chinese people in Italy. He made a short video, "I Am not a Virus", to call on people to treat local Chinese communities fairly, and he also sent a video to a Chinese-Italian family who were put in quarantine in Rome to cheer them up. He sent Li Shufen the WeChat message at that time.
When the virus caught Italy, Li contacted Gianni immediately, "My friend, are you OK?"
"Now it is our turn to help Gianni and people in Italy." Li said. The staff of the Science & Culture Center moved quickly. In addition to aid supplies, the teachers also wrote letters to children in Italy, and the kids made a lot of videos to encourage their peers overseas. They were trying to let children in Italy know that they can have fun even when they couldn't go outside, for example singing, dancing, exercising, playing games, etc. "Go China! Go Italy!" Those were the most frequently mentioned words by the kids.
"We hope to see you as soon as possible in Beijing when we defeat the virus. We will take you to the Palace Museum, the Great Wall…and we would like to visit your country, too!"
The story will continue…
"I will read the letter to our kids again when the school opens." Chen Qun said.
"Our friendship will only be deepened and we'll continue to work together to make the world better," said Gianni, "and NETF is committed to bringing China and Italy closer to each other."
Carlo Masci also expressed his gratitude to kids in China and warmly welcomed them to visit Pescara and learn about the Italian culture when things improve.
What a touching story between Chinese and Italian people! Let us join hands and continue to fight together, and we will definitely win the battle.
(Source: Official WeChat Account of Economic Daily)