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In March, 2014, Balla-Arabé Souleymane left his beloved China, and beloved Xidian University. Looking back on his three years of doctoral career, Souleymane feels most grateful to his tutor professor Gao Xinbo. "It is my greatest luck to have met such a responsible teacher!"

Upon arrival at Xi’an

Souleymane from Niger, a country at the southern edge of the Sahara, is the first overseas doctoral student recruited by Xidian University who attends all-English courses. "I was studying electric power engineering for my Master's degree. I have been very interested in imaging and image extraction, so I wanted to further my study of information and communication engineering very much. My graduate advisor recommended me to Xidian University. Besides, I had been longing for China, so I came to Xi'an without hesitation and decided to start my doctoral life here", says Souleymane. Upon arrival at Xi’an, Souleymane felt curious about everything here -The Terra Cotta Warriors, Wild Goose Pagoda, buns with preserved beef and crumbled pancake in mutton soup. "There are so many wondrous stories here. It’s very interesting!"

A tutor and friend

Speaking of learning, Souleymane had to first cross the language barrier. Because he knew no Chinese, he insisted on learning Chinese for 4 hours every morning and then continued his professional research in the afternoon for the first year of study. After years of this hard work, Souleymane improved a lot in listening and writing. "I have a learning tip: watching many Chinese movies. I myself like watching "Legend of the White Snake" starring Jet Li. The movie's subtitles helped me improve my Chinese very quickly, and these movies also helped me learn Chinese culture. "It’s like killing two birds with one stone."

In the second year, Souleymane put more efforts into his professional research. "Research direction is very important. Every time I had a bias in the study direction, Professor Gao always pointed it out in a timely fashion and guided me to a better direction. His words could always excite and lift up my imagination and development space. In addition, the professor often shared my papers with other doctoral students so that they could give me advice after our discussions, to improve my research results. Professor Gao is like a father to me, and also a working partner. We would work together to solve problems in our research, and I would give him advice for his research, too." Souleymane said, "Professor Gao is a particularly hard-working person. The university tutors are all busy with a lot of things. They will usually reply to students a week after they receive emails during their research paper period. But every time I send Professor Gao an email, I always receive his reply on the same day. It is because of his urging and encouragement that I could concentrate on my papers, and finally completed 11 papers in these three years, while normally a doctoral student will only have to complete 3 to 4." What is more worth mentioning, is that Souleymane published 4 SCI papers as the first author, of which 3 are on the IEEE, and 2 on the second Area of JCR, so he was thus twice invited to an international, high-level academic meeting to have his papers read out loud. In recognition of his academic achievements, he was awarded a UN Special Scholarship of $60,000.

Set off to Bourgogne

Due to his outstanding performance during hisdoctoral period, Souleymane started his teaching career at the University of Bourgogne, France in April 2014. Souleymane is full of excitement for his new life. As for China, and for Xi'an, Souleymane has firmly stated that he will surely come back because Xidian University has become part of his life, and he is eager to return to learn more.