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Hope the Keynote as New Semester Starts

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11-year-old Adla attending Urumqi No.10 Primary School saluted armed police in the sentry box opposite her school gate on the first day of the new semester Tuesday morning.

"They saluted me, too. I simply want to thank them. I know that they have been protecting us," said the girl on the way to school with her two good friends Myer and Xiaoyu. Their school is located on Tuanjie Road, one of the areas most seriously damaged by rioters on July 5.

All Urumqi schools, including those in areas heavily attacked, opened for the new semester on Tuesday as normal, said Hu Junhai, director of Urumqi Education Bureau.

Each school was guarded by a group of armed police, Hu said.

Many schools began first-day classes by focusing on patriotism, he said.

"Students told me during the first class that the July 5 riot had influenced their summer vacation," said Amgul, one of Adla's teachers, who hugged each student in her class at the school gate.

They had been confined at home for the two months of the summer holidays, Amgul said.

"I'm excited as the new semester begins! I was bored at home, watching TV, reading cartoon books," said Adla.

Another two students, Ymura and Li Ziran, said the new semester filled them with hope.

"We have many reasons to be hopeful," said Ymura.

Hope is also strong among students from the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region who began the new semester in cities like Beijing, Shanghai and Dongguan.

"It's the first time I have left my hometown. I was little bit nervous at the beginning but was surprised when I arrived here, " said a 15-year-old girl named Busari, one of 185 imported students at Dongguan Senior Middle School in Dongguan City in south China's Guangdong Province.

Xiao Jianmei, a teacher who accompanied the students all the way to Dongguan said: "I hope it's a new start for them."

"The school is so beautiful. I want to make new friends. I will study hard," Busari said.

Among the 1.6 million primary and middle school students in Shanghai, 2,000 students in 10 schools come from Xinjiang.

Some 325 students, mostly from ordinary ethnic families, returned to Shanghai Qibao Middle School accompanied by their teachers. The first topic discussed in their first class was the July 5 riot and their future life.

Abdughupur's aim is to enter a good medical college following senior middle school study and return to his hometown.

In south China's Hainan Province, 18,000 rural area students also have the chance to go to cities for education.

The students have been accepted by 10 schools thanks to investment of 210 million yuan (about 31 million U.S. dollars) by local government and a Hong Kong foundation.

The students are mainly from poor ethnic areas, said Sun Hongrui, deputy director of education bureau of Ledong County in Hainan which also has a ethnic population of 1,471,800 people, amounting to nearly 18 percent of the province's people.

The education immigration project can be traced back to 2006 when 271 students were moved from Wangxia village to a county school in Changjiang Li.

In southwest China's quake-hit Sichuan Province, pupils are also returning for the new semester.

"I can finally go back to my hometown for school," said a nine-year-old girl named Qiangwei of Qiang nationality who left devastated Wenchuan County for Zigong City in Sichuan to continue her education after a magnitude 8 earthquake on May 12, 2008.

Her school has been rebuilt by the Guangdong Province's government, which spent 900 million yuan (about 132 million U.S. dollars) to erect 16 new schools in Wenchuan.

In a new school named Beijing Primary School build by the Beijing municipal government in Shifang City, Sichuan, students had a first class on patriotism and "love".

12-year-old Ma Siyi painted a picture of Beijing reconstruction workers and gave it to them as a gift. "I would like to thank them and I want to be a architect when I grow up to work with them," she said.

The first class differed in other cities and provinces. Patriotism was a major topic for students in cities like Beijing and Tianjin while the prevention of A/H1N1 was on the agenda of schools in Hainan, Guangdong and Jiangxi provinces and the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.

The first school day for 8,000 students in Changning County in Sichuan was delayed for at least two days by a rain storm on Saturday which affected 175,500 people.

The start for another 1,000 students has been delayed indefinitely because their school building in Guiyang, capital of southwest China's Guizhou Province, has been declared unsafe.

(Xinhua News Agency September 2, 2009)

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