Rakhmonov Isfandiyor thinks about the Belt and Road Initiative a lot, which is why he has kept an eye on the ongoing Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit in Astana, Kazakhstan.[Special coverage]
"I hope more projects will spring up through the summit. I look forward to being part of the blueprint that benefits China, my motherland, and the world," said the junior from Uzbekistan, a finance major with Shanghai-based East China Normal University.
Isfandiyor is one of the university's more than 200 students from foreign SCO countries -- Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan -- and from the organization's dialogue partners.
He said Shanghai, where he has lived for three years, was a window for him to observe China.
"Shanghai has struck a balance between modernity and tradition. The speed of development is no longer its top priority, it cares more about pubic services now," Isfandiyor said.
Zogov Manucheha, from Tajikistan, a Ph.D candidate in politics at the university, is interested in the country's development.
"I visited a number of Chinese cities. Some inland cities are what Shanghai looked like 20 years ago, but they have their own plans that fit into local conditions, and the pace of life is getting faster there," Manucheha said.
He believes China's 13th five-year plan, which points to a clear direction for development, can bring the government and people closer.
Manucheha is impressed by Chinese-style democracy. Attendees of the annual national parliamentary session include scientists, teachers, entrepreneurs and migrant workers.
"They know what happened in their communities, and therefore can boost solidarity and help the country move on the right path," he said.
Riabovich Mickhail from Russia is amazed at the country's social development.
"Back in 2014, when I was fresh here, payment through mobile phones and online taxi-hailing services was not common. But today, I can go out without cash," he said.
Mickhail's father wants him to work in China after graduation, believing China is the future.
"He told me many Russian companies require their employees to learn Chinese. I'm taking his advice seriously," Mickhail said.
Orozbaeva Neerim from Kyrgyzstan formed the first impression of Chinese people at home and the impression has been reinforced after her arrival in Shanghai.
"In recent years, a lot of Chinese workers helped build roads in my hometown. They worked so hard, and even didn't rest at night," Neerim said. "Then I found that Shanghai people are diligent as well. They're energetic and passionate about innovation."
The students hope China would expand cooperation on tourism, education, security and transportation with their home countries.
"We welcome Chinese tourists. We have clean snow and water and a vast grassland," said Boboev Rustam from Tajikistan.