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Russian Daughter of Dunhuang

Source: Science and Technology Daily | 2022-09-22 09:43:20 | Author: LONG Yun

Olga Pronkina. (COURTESY PHOTO)


Dunhuang was one of the most important interchange points of Eastern and Western cultures in ancient time, along the legendary Silk Road. Surrounded by desert, the area is famous for the Mogao Grottoes, housing statues and wall paintings spanning 1,000 years of Buddhist art. Today Dunhuang city remains a thriving center of cultural exchanges, thanks to the Belt and Road Initiative, which has brought with it a new vitality.

Olga Pronkina, a Russian academic, serves as a vivid illustration of these international cultural exchanges. In 2019, Pronkina was accepted into a PhD program in Dunhuang Studies at Lanzhou University, under the supervision of Professor Zheng Binglin, a renowned expert in the field. Her academic research centered on the archaeology of five Central Asian countries, but her professional research focuses on the legal protection of cultural heritage.

In terms of her academic choice, Pronkina considers Dunhuang studies an interesting and profound field. "Since I live and work in Gansu province, a place rich in cultural resources, conducting research here [has] provided me with numerous opportunities," she said.

Currently, Pronkina is a professor at Gansu University of Political Science and Law. She has successfully transitioned from a student to a teacher in China. Pronkina is deeply committed to teaching, while also managing the work of international students in her university.

Her students come from different countries with distinct cultural backgrounds. The similarity between her and her students in this regard "creates a spiritual connection," she said.

"Love is the essence of education," she told Science and Technology Daily, highlighting that caring for the students will lead to high-quality education.

In order to develop practical international cooperation in the educational arena, Pronkina and her colleagues conducted interviews with the presidents of many universities in countries along the Belt and Road to obtain more professional insight. As a foreign scholar working in a Chinese university, Pronkina is very interested in enhancing the quality of education in China through the wide application of science and technology.

Many laboratories, research institutes, and online learning platforms have been established in China's universities. She lauded China's educational achievements in recent years and said, "China will undoubtedly contribute valuable experience to the globe, especially to member countries of the Belt and Road Initiative, which will bring high-tech help to improve their educational conditions."

"For instance, some countries could not carry out online education during COVID-19. In China, there are numerous [well-developed] online learning systems," she added.

Pronkina spoke highly of the role that digital technology plays in cultural heritage conservation. Dunhuang is distant from many locations throughout the globe. However, because of digital technology, its renowned cultural treasure may be freely accessed and appreciated by people worldwide.

In the academic realm, international scholars, together with their Chinese colleagues, can conduct research, host international academic conferences, and publish their works thanks to digitization. "The application of digital technology is also an effective means to protect the [Mogao] grottoes," she said.


Editor: 毕炜梓

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