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Russian woman boosts ties between China, her nation

China Daily | Updated: 2024-02-29 11:02

HARBIN — Looking back, Mitina Polina, a Russian woman who has lived in China for 18 years, feels that "karma" perfectly explains her bond with her adopted home.

"I never thought about learning Chinese before, let alone living in China," Polina recalled.

Born in 1985 in Krasnoyarsk Krai, she participated in a short-term exchange program in China during her college years. In early 2004, she spent more than 20 days in Jiamusi, Heilongjiang province. During her stay, she started learning Chinese and even underwent acupuncture treatment adapted from traditional Chinese medicine skills, which deepened her understanding of the country and inspired her to learn more about the language.

After the short-term exchange, Polina made up her mind to really learn Chinese. She stayed up late every night to listen to Mandarin language tapes and practiced speaking with her Chinese friends in her hometown.

"In two years, I went from being unable to speak a complete sentence in Chinese to being able to communicate fluently with Chinese people," Polina said.

In 2006, Polina graduated from college and chose to continue her studies in China. Later, she attended Heilongjiang University for further language learning.

Her hard work paid off. After a year's study, she had gained a strong command of the language and landed a job at a travel agency in Harbin, the provincial capital.

"Our travel agency's work mainly involves designing itineraries for Russian clients in China and providing reception and service," Polina explained.

She not only needs to do translation work but also has to design travel routes, carry out promotional activities, book hotels and reserve vehicles during their trips. She quipped that she has to be "available 24/7".

As people-to-people exchanges between China and Russia have grown over the years, Polina's business now goes beyond tourism and includes medical care, shopping, foreign trade and helping more Russians study in China.

"Many Russian children receive medical treatment in China, and not only are their mothers happy, giving a thumbs-up to traditional Chinese medicine, but I am also happy because they are able to solve problems through my service," she said.

To meet the growing demand of Russian students to study in China, Polina often shuttles between different institutions. "Although their demands are diverse, the goals of the students are the same — hoping to come to China to study. I know how important this is to them, and I also hope to help them achieve their dreams," she added.

Her agency now receives tens of thousands of Russian clients every year. Many Chinese people have also reacquainted themselves with Russians through Polina.

In her view, the Belt and Road Initiative has further promoted people-to-people exchanges between China and Russia, and she has become part of the "bridge" facilitating exchanges between the two countries.

Polina, who is married to a Chinese national, often participates in performances of ethnic dances, showcasing signature Russian culture to more Chinese friends.

"After 18 years in China, I have become accustomed to life here. Of course, there is still a lot of uncertainty in the future, but I believe that my 'karma' with China will continue," Polina said.


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