A notebook in hand, Mary Lepneva wrote down all the Chinese phrases that were new to her, while working as a volunteer for the Fourth China-Russia Women's Cultural Week.
Many Russian students are coming to China to sharpen their Chinese language skills for better jobs back home.
The student of the Moscow State Institute of International Relations will come to Beijing this August for the Chinese-speaking contest to be held by the Chinese Language Council of the Ministry of Education. She has a good chance of winning with her perfect pronunciation, which she has achieved by making a lot of Chinese friends in Moscow.
Learning Chinese is becoming popular in Russia owing to a growing need for people with the language skills and offers of good salaries, says a student of Moscow University who was also a volunteer and prefers to be known by his Chinese name, Mo Andong.
Graduates who can speak Chinese find jobs easily at Russian companies, government departments and also at subsidiaries of multi-nationals in Russia, and receive a much higher than average payment. "The Chinese language is a very good major, indeed," he says.
Many young people in Russia are going in for a short study stint in China to polish their language skills, he says. Mo himself stayed in Beijing for one year, and Lepneva is going to study at the Beijing Foreign Language University in 2009. She is also applying to be a volunteer at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.
Anna and her boyfriend, both college students and volunteers at the Culture Week, also plan to study the language in China and have been admitted to Guangzhou University. "China is being talked about all the time here and people want to know more about China. So do we," she says.
The theme of the Cultural Week, and also the Year of China in Russia, is to give Russians a better knowledge and understanding of their neighbor.
During the week from July 2 to 8, Gu Xiulian, vice-chairwoman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress and president of the All-China Women's Federation (ACWF), led a Chinese delegation to Moscow and St Petersburg and met senior Russian officials such as Boris Gryzlov, chairman of the state Duma, lower house of Russia's parliament and First Deputy Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev, as well as her Russian counterpart Svetlana Orlova.
One of the highlights of the celebrations was a song-and-dance show by typical families from both China and Russia. Other events included a forum involving Chinese and Russian women, the second of its kind, and an exhibition of folk handicrafts.
At the forum, women of the two countries exchanged views on topics such as marriage, family, education of the youth and life of the elderly. "Both sides highly value the actions of Chinese and Russian women's non-governmental organizations in the strengthening of families, promotion of sexual equality and social security," says an agreement reached at the forum, which was read at the Culture Week's closing ceremony by Orlova and ACWF's vice-president Zhao Shaohua.
The agreement also condemns all violence targeting children and women as well as sexual discrimination, and calls for even better communication between the two countries' parliaments, youth, women and non-governmental organizations.
(China Daily July 18, 2007)