BISHKEK: ''I really love English because, knowing it, you can learn about so many interesting things. It is a world language,’’ said Begimai, 18, who was walking in the center of Bishkek holding English language textbooks. One of three children, Begimai said she wants to be an English translator, but does’t plan to limit herself to just one foreign language. ‘’I became interested in Chinese language this year because I understood that a person can learn 2, 3 or 4 languages at the same time if there is a desire. If you have a goal, you can reach it.’’ Begimai said she went to China 9 years ago to visit her aunt, a translator. She said her aunt returned to Kyrgyzstan, got married and know lives in a village. ‘’She said you can forget a language if you don’t practice it.’'
CHITA, EASTERN SIBERIA: Chita, which lies about 400 kilometers from the Chinese border, suffered during the 1990s economic turmoil just like many other Russian cities. Yura said his mother, a single parent, made ends meet by buying clothing in China and reselling it in Russia, 'like many other people'' from Chita. Yura said his grandmother watched over him when mom was traveling. Yura said his mom came to like China and Chinese language. She even took him on a vacation to China. That must have influenced Yura. The 22 year-old is now finishing a bachelor's degree in Chinese. He just took a job at a hostel in Chita to save money to continue his studies in China. He said the Russian economic crisis and subsequent ruble devaluation have made studying and living in China more expensive. ''China is the future,'' he said. ''We live near China. It makes sense to learn the language.'' Like many students from Chita, Yura said he will look for work in other, bigger Siberian cities like Krasnoyarsk and Novosibirsk. ''There aren't many jobs here.''
KHABAROVSK: Evgeny and his younger brother were touching up their new bar ‘Loft’ in Khabarovsk early on a February weekday evening. They had just held what they called ‘a pre-opening’ event a few days before, but still needed to do some work before fully opening.
The clean, simple bar had black and white portraits of Cubans on the wall. Small tables and couches were placed in various corners of the bar. Evgeny said his father made some of the bar’s furniture.
Jazz music played in the background. Evgeny says he likes Jazz and Blues and that his favorite musician in this genre is Karl Frierson….