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Teacher Yearns to Meet Friend from Good Old Days
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In the lobby of a school in downtown Moscow, Nina Izmaillovana gazes at a Chinese couplet hanging from a wall which hails spring flowers and prays for blessings. She prays for luck in finding the Chinese boyfriend whom she fell in love with half a century ago.


"We parted in tears at the railway station and I just couldn't help crying," Izmaillovana said, recalling the good days she shared with the Chinese weight-lifter when she worked as an interpreter for a Chinese sports team training in the former Soviet Union.


After the training ended, the separated pair shared their feelings of joy and sadness through letters and photographs.


Izmaillovana did not have an opportunity to work in China and meet her lover again, as bilateral relations between the two countries experienced a downturn in the late 1950s.


"I have kept his pictures since then and am still waiting for any word about him," said the 76-year-old secondary school teacher, who is yearning for her dream to come true, with the launch of the Year of China in Russia, a reciprocal event to the Year of Russia in China last year.


Maya Mogulina, also a teacher at the Russian school which has been teaching Chinese for five decades, envies her students for their better text books with Chinese nursery rhymes and ancient poems.


"After my graduation in 1965, I didn't have a chance to speak Chinese with a native Chinese speaker face to face. The first such opportunity came eight years later when I met a Chinese immigrant in Indonesia," Maya said.


Zoya Pliaguhina, another teacher at the school, was luckier. After graduating in the early 1990s, she won a chance to receive further education in eastern China's Anhui Province.


Teaching Chinese with slide shows, Zoya is now proud of her students.


"China has the Great Wall, and many beautiful flowers," is how one of her grade-one students described China in fluent Chinese.


"Time changes, but our love for China, and for Chinese, has never changed in the last 50 years," Izmaillovana said, looking at the happy and playful boys and girls.


(China Daily March 27, 2007)

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