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The good things we have lost

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By Ipatenkova Yulia | | Updated: Feb 08, 2022

[Russia] Ipatenkova Yulia, Northeast Normal University

Ipatenkova Yulia [Photo provided to]

Things we used to have

After the October Revolution in 1917, Russia entered a new era and the Soviet Union created one glorious monument after another in human history. From science and technology to culture, from industry to military, we have cracked down on fascism and confronted Western hegemony. As a powerful country of that era, we have guided the Chinese revolution and helped building a new China, with the two countries helping each other like neighbors, moving toward modernization.

The transformation you have created

The year 1949 witnessed the establishment of the People’s Republic of China. Under the leadership of the Communist Party of China, the Chinese people have achieved multiple breakthroughs following the principle of “wading across the stream by feeling the way.” Rising from a war-torn country, the diligent Chinese people have built the nation into a strong, independent and autonomous new China, which realized industrial development, launched reform and opening up in a short span of 70 years. A creative transformation helps China shake off the shadow of the Soviet Union and greatly surpass that once-powerful socialist power.

The campus of Northeast Normal University [Photo provided to]

The correct choice of history

When I first came to China to study in 2012, I found this country totally different from what the Russian textbooks depicted and the Russian people imagined. Words like “development”, “vitality” and “modernization” began emerging in my mind. After a period of adaptation and communication, I felt the strong influence of Chinese culture. This year marks the 7th year of my living in China, whose previous changes can be seen, and recent changes can be felt by and integrated into every corner of my life.

It is easy to feel the Chinese speed reflected by the shared culture and the high-speed railways, the Chinese efficiency by online payment, the Chinese quality by higher education, the Chinese environmental protection by garbage classification, and the Chinese responsibility by the Belt and Road Initiative. I regrettably find that Russia has fallen far behind in these areas every time when returning Russia, which will take several years to catch up.

During a trip to Russia, my Chinese boyfriend asked me why there were so many Soviet-era buildings on the road and why the economy wasn’t growing so fast ... I began to reflect on myself that we used to be very great in the era of Soviet Union, but later we lost some of our own essences, maybe because we failed to stick to our “original task”. For most Russian people who were born in the era of the Russian federation, we lack the Soviet complex that most Chinese people have. Being a China hand, I have discovered the greatness of the CPC in speeding up national development while I appreciate the beautiful scenery of China.

Sticking to the principles of Marxism, the CPC has kept innovating and adhered to a path of socialist development with Chinese characteristics. As a result, the once weak country reached the height that the Soviet Union has never reached. China remains true to its “original aspiration”, while we did not. What would our life be like if we persisted? Suddenly I feel that we have lost so many intangible and good things, which have helped China achieve fundamental changes. Only those who stick it out can achieve success.

The campus of Northeast Normal University [Photo provided to]

The times are writing

The year 2019 marks the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Russia. Against this background, when the leaders of the two countries decided to upgrade Sino-Russian relations to a comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination for a new era, enriching new meaning and significance to the bilateral ties. I am glad to see more and more Russian students are appearing on Chinese campus, thanks to China’s policy to promote the exchanges between the two countries and their youths.

As a Chinese old saying goes “when three people walk together, one must learn from the other,” mutual study and communications are the foundation of future development. The Study not only means language learning but also spiritual improvement. Although the two countries have chosen different paths of development since the collapse of the Soviet Union, I firmly believe that they once had a beautiful past and also will have a brilliant future.

Telling Chinese stories well

Ten years ago, I was so confused when being admitted to the Chinese department and beginning to learn Chinese. It was impossible for me to predict how my life would be in the next decade. Today, China has become my second hometown due to my deep love of the Chinese language. As the choices we make every day will affect our future development, learning Chinese is such a turning point in my life, giving me an unprecedented prospect of life and an important opportunity to realize my value.

As a international student in the new era, I have the duty to introduce Russian culture to China and vice versa. It would be a great honor to give full play to my role as an envoy of Chinese culture and tell Chinese stories well. In my opinion, foreigners who study in China also have their “initial aspiration” and “mission.” China has witnessed my growth, study and love.

The campus of Northeast Normal University [Photo provided to]

Happy birthday to the People’s Republic of China for her 70th anniversary! I witness your brilliance, you witness my growth!

The story is from "My Beautiful Encounter with China" Essay Competition organized by the Chinese Service Center for Scholarly Exchanges (CSCSE).