Portraits of Irkutsk

My Interest

In addition to foreign policy, I am very interested in education, especially higher education.  The university is the place where one finds the next generation of experts.  Students study many different subjects, but all learn foreign languages (at least one).  This is their opportunity to learn about other countries.  I am very interested in the motivation of students in decided to learn the languages they choose.  In particular, why do Russian students want to learn Chinese?  Are they only interested in language, or is there something more?  Culture?  History?  Philosophy?

My goal for this project was to answer this question.  I arrived in Irkutsk and immediately noticed a lot of signs in Chinese, Chinese students on campus, and Chinese restaurants around the city.  I even found out that my teacher used to work in China.  Simply put, I thought to myself, "how can economic reasons be the only motivation."  Chinese - it is very visible here.  I could not believe that students would decide to study such a complex language without any sort of internal interest.  And, after talking with students here, I still think that it is impossible.

Conversely, I also wanted to know why Chinese students choose the Russian language.  Without Chinese speakers, there would be no use for signs in Chinese.  However, why do such students decide to study specifically in Irkutsk?  Out of all the locations in the world, they enrolled at Irkutsk state University -- this is not a bad thing, but it is nonetheless interesting.  And, in the end, the views of Chinese respondents, in my opinion, were more fascinating than the answers of Russians.

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