“The Forbidden City, the Great Wall and the Tian’anmen Square … everywhere we have been to are beautiful!”

Six students from China-Laos Friendship Nongping Primary School gathered in their classroom in the Lao capital Vientiane on April 28 and shared their impressions of China during a recent trip.

They were part of a sub-forum on people-to-people exchanges during the Second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation (BRF) held on April 25-27 in Beijing.

On the eve of the forum, the teachers and students of the village school in the north of Vientiane, wrote in a letter to the General Secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and Chinese President Xi Jinping that the Chinese Dream and the Laotian Dream are connected together through the Belt and Road Initiative, and that they hope to take the Laos-China Railway to Beijing as soon as possible.

“You may not know that Grandpa Xi has received and read our letter and the album of your paintings,” Lin Jieyu, a Chinese volunteer teacher at the school, told the kids.

“In his reply, he also wishes our China-Laos Friendship Nongping Primary School will grow better and better, and welcomes you an early trip to Beijing by taking the train on the China-Laos railway!”

“China’s train is the most beautiful. I saw it on the way to Badaling!” the 9-year-old Khamphet said loudly. “We will have the same train soon in our country.”

Khamphet is correct. In last December, the first China-Laos Railway T-shaped concrete beam was successfully erected at the site of China Railway No.2 Engineering Group (CREC-2), just dozen kilometres north of the Nongping Village, marking a milestone in the history of the construction of China-Laos railway.

“I love China,” echoed the 9-year-old girl Phonephivanh. “I also hope that I can take the train to Beijing in the future.”

Different from the excitement of the children, responsibilities are added to the 56-year-old Bounmy, the Nongping Primary School principal.

Principal Bounmy has witnessed the tremendous changes of the school with the aid from the China Foundation for Peace and Development.She also represented the school to express sincere gratitude to President Xi at the sub-forum in Beijing.

“On receiving the reply letter from President Xi Jinping, I feel grateful and thankful for his kindness. In the letter, President Xi encouraged students to pay attention to their studies and catch a chance to get a scholarship to study in China,” Bounmy told Xinhua News Agency. “I see that President Xi is generous and very kind to us. He wants us to improve in a better way.”

“We benefit a lot from joining the Belt and Road construction. We must bring our children up well and strive to help them realise their dream of studying in China soon,” she added.

Amphouvone, a resident of the Nongping Village, felt surprised and glad after hearing that the Chinese president wrote back to her village school.

“This reflects the importance that Chinese leaders and people attach to the Lao government and people, and also shows that the relationship between the two countries is becoming more and more intimate,” she said to Xinhua.

The Nongping Primary School is a demonstration project of China-Laos friendship in recent years, which is funded by the China Foundation for Peace and Development in 2012. Since then the foundation has been sending volunteer Chinese teachers and offering teaching materials to the school.

“We are encouraged by President Xi’s reply letter, feeling warmness and kindness,” said Yao Changhua, a volunteer teacher at the school.

“I will try my best to do my job well, hoping to teach children more knowledge, introduce Chinese culture, and promote the continuous development of China-Laos friendship.”