I am from Xinjiang

Updated: 2014-04-28 17:14

By Guo Yali (chinadaily.com.cn)

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I am from Xinjiang

"My name is Zhang Zhiqiang. I'm of the Han ethnic group, and I'm 35. I am in the cellphone business in Shenzhen. I also have another name - Zhang Lanjiang. My father went to Xinjiang from the inland and loves Xinjiang so much that all his four sons have jiang in their names. My parents were so busy and then they sent me to live in a Uygur family when I was little. I moved back till I went to middle school. So I have my Uygur parents and I regarded them like my real parents. I became a Muslim when I was running a business in Kazakhstan. Now I pray five times a day and pray for the health and happiness for my four parents. My dream this year is to find a Muslim woman to get married." Photo by Kurbanjan Samat / For China Daily

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There are 21.8 million people from 47 ethnic groups inhabiting the region. The 13 main groups include Uygur, Han, Kazak, Hui, Mongolian, Kirgiz, Xibe, Tajik, Ozbek, Manchu, Daur, Tatar and Russian.

"There are similar projects, operated by official departments or other individuals, but I am the one who will do the job best," Kurbanjan says. "Because I am one of them. I will tell them about my story and my life first. They will echo my feelings. They will understand why I am doing this."

At first Kurbanjan was going to ask his interviewees the "grand" question, about what the Chinese Dream means to them, but he soon realized the answers were not that "grand".

"They share their stories with me. They are just ordinary people living an ordinary life, but their stories touch me," he says.

A couple want their baby to be safely delivered; a graduating student wants to find a job without being discriminated against; a canteen boss says he hopes his son who is ill will recover soon.

Kurbanjan says to live, survive, and hopefully thrive, is the common dream of Xinjiang people, and probably every Chinese.

"Why are we here? We like the opportunities the cities offer. Like here in Beijing, no matter if you are Han or Uygur, you can enjoy a decent life if you have talent," he says.

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