Chinese Cultural event helps Ukrainian elderly cope with loneliness

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"I love this very much! My soul is singing," Lucia Pavlovna, the 87-year-old lady, is singing a Ukrainian folk song during the Spring Festival celebration in a nursing home on the outskirts of Kiev.

The celebration named "Warmth of Culture," which was organized by the Confucius Institute of the Kiev National Linguistic University (KNLU), means a lot for Pavlovna, who is suffering from loneliness.

Since her children moved abroad four years ago, Pavlovna has been living alone in a small room in the nursing home. She is spending her time viewing soap operas or remembering the good old days, when she worked as an engineer at an industrial plant.

The Spring Festival party is a rare chance for Pavlovna to meet her friends and get acquainted with a new culture.

"I am so excited because today I will hear Chinese songs for the first time in my life," Pavlovna told Xinhua.

During the Spring Festival party, the students of the Confucius Institute of the KNLU were singing Chinese and Ukrainian folk songs, performing dancing and even doing a tea ceremony to provide entertainment for the residents of the nursing home.

The festivity has attracted a full house of spectators, who watched the concert with acute fascination.

The final song "The country is our common family" caught the attention of the whole audience, with the eyes of many spectators were brimming with tears of happiness.

Shi Yajun, Chinese president for the KNLU Confucius Institute, said the event follows a Chinese tradition of showing gratitude and respect to seniors during the Spring Festival celebrations.

"The Lunar New Year is a traditional Chinese holiday, when all family members gather together and show respect to the people of the older generation," Shi told Xinhua.

He added that another aim of the celebration is the introduction of the Chinese traditional culture and values to Ukrainians.

"The Spring Festival is one of the landmark symbols of Chinese culture. We organized this event for ordinary Ukrainians, including the residents of the nursing home, to introduce Chinese culture to them, share our warmth with them and strengthen friendship and cooperation between the two peoples," Shi said.

Vladislav Shalay, Deputy Director of the Kiev nursing home, said that festivity became a "breath of fresh air" in a chain of grey days for more than 200 residents of the care facility.

"We are happy that the Confucius Institute gave us the opportunity to become a part of this fairytale and opened up China for us. We all are grateful -- the employees of the boarding house and our wards. They all enjoy the holiday," Shalay told Xinhua.

Meanwhile, Margarita Shimerko, a student at the KNLU Confucius Institute, said she is proud to participate in the concert for elderly people, thus enriching their everyday life.

"It is a great pride for me to take part in this concert, where I have the opportunity to share my kindness with people and help them learn Chinese culture," Shimerko told Xinhua.

The student said she would like to adopt in Ukraine a tradition that those living apart from their elderly relatives return home during the New Year time.

"We need to learn a lot from China. I think that people in Ukraine must follow the Chinese tradition and share their kindness with seniors," Shimerko said.

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