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Moscow residents learn Chinese language, culture at new center

Updated: 2013-03-23 01:57
By ZHAO SHENGNAN in Moscow ( China Daily)

Tamara Nikolayevna has mastered many artistic skills, including acting and sculpting, but never expected to start learning traditional Chinese painting at the age of 75.

"I long for Chinese culture, but it's a pity I have not had the chance to experience it or been to China before. Now, my daughter is so surprised that I can paint such a beautiful picture after only taking two classes," said Nikolayevna, one of the Russians studying traditional Chinese painting at the Chinese Culture Center in Moscow.

The establishment of the center in December is one of the latest efforts by China to help more Russians learn the language and culture of China.

Zhang Zhonghua, Chinese cultural counselor to Russia, said: "With the most frequent-ever cultural exchanges between the two countries recently, more and more Russian people would like, and have more opportunities, to know about Chinese culture."

Zhang said the center has launched Chinese calligraphy, paper-cutting, Chinese language and martial-arts classes besides the painting class.

Natalia Volonaya, a 55-year-old Russian teacher at the center, said when she began learning traditional Chinese painting 10 years ago, she had to practice it on newspapers, as Chinese rice paper was not available then.

"Look at it now. The center prepares the best environment for studying and there are more Chinese teachers and classes in Russia, too," she said before giving a lesson to dozens of Russian students.

But Volonaya is also looking for more access to Chinese culture, as she believes that being outstanding at Chinese painting requires not only mastering painting skills, but also sufficient knowledge of Chinese philosophy.

"Compared with European paintings, the Chinese ones are more natural and concise, and contain a lot of thoughts," she said.

"I also practice calligraphy and can read books about Chinese culture in the center's library, but I would like to see more Chinese painters holding exhibitions in Russia, so I can communicate with them," she added.

The center plans to open more libraries, and improve cooperation with local cultural and educational bodies to meet Russian people's growing interest in Chinese culture.

Taking Chinese literature as an example, Zhang said publishing bodies on both sides are scheduled to translate 50 classical works from each country in the next six years.

The demand for Chinese literature was highlighted after Chinese writer Mo Yan was awarded the Nobel Prize in literature last year.

The day after Mo won the prize, the Russian version of his work The Republic of Wine appeared in the largest bookstore in Moscow and became the fifth best-selling book in the store by the end of 2012, according to Zhang.

"The Russian side is busy translating other works by Mo and has expressed a strong willingness to strengthen cooperation with Chinese literary figures," she said.

Vladimir Smirnov, a student in the center's language class, said studying Chinese can also bring more business to his transportation company.

"Ten years ago, Chinese who knew Russian came here. Five years ago, Chinese people who speak English came here. Now, Chinese people come here, but cannot speak either Russian or English. So if I can speak Chinese, I can better help them and have more business with them," he said.

zhaoshengnan@ chinadaily.com.cn


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