Portraits of Irkutsk

Russian Students' Answers

It is evident that some respondents chose Chinese for practical reasons.  This is not surprising.  However, it is also interesting that the majority (7:6) gave other explanations.  We would not misspeak to say that young people treat the Chinese language as a new challenge.  There are opportunities related to language, but this is not the strongest motivation.  Simply put, prospects are not a universal factor.  Students are interested in aspects of Chinese culture, the complexity of the language, and political relations between China and Russia - rather than just the possibility of future work. This is a positive fact that there are many paths which the two states can follow in their effort to develop ties in the field of education.  All students benefit from increased quality of education, and these answers indicate the prospect (if I may use the term) of expanding and deepening the study of China and its language in Russia.

Beyond the reasons for the choice of the Chinese language, the most interesting section was the opinion on the question "does Chinese culture influence Irkutsk."  The respondents did not agree.  The students who answered were divided into two camps.  On the one hand, Irkutskians think that you can see the influence in the emergence of Chinese markets and restaurants in Irkutsk and in the field of tourism.  Of those who disagree, the prevailing argument is that "Irkutsk is primarily a Russian city."  Life here is a completely different experience, and not "like life in China."  And it is interesting that almost all (11:2) said that there is an opportunity to speak Chinese here, but noted the caveat that they usually have to search for places to do so.

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