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Feature: Confucius nurtures Russian students in Chinese learning

By Han Liang (Xinhua)

10:25, March 19, 2013

(file photo)

MOSCOW, March 19 (Xinhua) -- "To be fond of knowledge is better than merely to acquire it; to take delight in it is still better than merely to be fond of it," Confucius told his disciples more than 2,000 years ago.

If he had lived long enough, the Chinese sage would have been gratified to see his words being proved right again today in the language-training institutes across the globe under his name.

Prior to Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit to Russia, the fervor for learning Chinese is especially conspicuous in Russia's Far East region, as increasing cross-border trade and tourism between the two giant neighbors requires huge amount of fluent Chinese speakers.

In Russia, more than 20 Confucius Institutes and several Confucius classrooms have opened from the Far Eastern city of Vladivostok to Kazan along the Volga River, while more than 40 universities and about 20 middle and primary schools having listed Chinese as their first foreign language.

For a country stretching across Europe and Asia with 1,700 square km of land, these figures may not seem huge. However, as the saying goes, a single spark can start a prairie fire. The glamour of Chinese characters and the thousand years of history and culture they carry has fired the enthusiasm of Russia's young people.

In the eyes of Concordia Kurilova, rector of the Confucius Institute at Far Eastern Federal University in Vladivostok, the school serves as a platform for disseminating Chinese culture and promoting mutual learning, understanding and friendship between Russia and China.

As the first Confucius Institute in Russia, Kurilova said it had also set up offshoot classrooms in middle schools and primary schools across the region, attracting 4,000 registered learners in the past six years.

Meanwhile, the school maintained close cooperation with local universities and middle schools on staff training, the Chinese Proficiency Test and cultural activities, she told Xinhua.

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