Kurbanjan Samat

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Kurbanjan Samat is a Uygur from Xinjiang. He has lived in Beijing for eight years and works as a camera operator with China Central Television (CCTV), as well as a freelance photographer.

Born on Sept.14,1982 in Hotan, a noted jade producer in Xinjiang, Samat’s father has been a jade trader for more than three decades. Samat couldn't speak any Mandarin until 1998. When he enrolled at Bozhou Teachers' College, he asked to share a dormitory with students from the Han ethnic group in order to learn more Mandarin.

Samat has taken a great many photos depicting Xinjiang's natural scenery and traditional culture. He thought the photos were enough to inspire admiration for Xinjiang. In 2013, he visited New York City, where he was impressed by what he saw at some photography exhibitions. At that moment, he realized that photos documenting lives of ordinary people are the most touching.

He published photo series, I'm from Xinjiang, allowing people to see what Xinjiang natives are doing and hoping to provide answers to what causes the tensions in the northwest China region where several deadly terrorist attacks had happened. In it, Samat documented the everyday lives of people from Xinjiang who now live elsewhere in China. Among them are restaurateurs, jade merchants, white-collar workers, nightclub singers and dancers, lawyers working in the United States, and world-renowned artists and designers. They come from a variety of ethnic groups in Xinjiang. Through conversing with them and hearing their stories about reaching for their dreams, he tried to explore a theme: The kind heart of humanity transcends boundaries of ethnicity and religion.

Samat hopes sharing stories of hardworking Xinjiang natives can remove labels stuck on people of Xinjiang and promote mutual understanding.