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Vladimir Ganin paints in his studio at the Hunan Institute of Science and Technology.
Vladimir Ganin, a 49-year-old Russian oil painter, and his violinist wife, Anna, have dedicated 15 years to teaching art education at the Hunan Institute of Science and Technology in Yueyang, Hunan province, witnessing China"s development in the arts.
The couple came to the institute in 2002 at the invitation of the local government, after spending over a year at Jilin College of the Arts in Changchun, Jilin province.
"Changchun is too cold, even colder than Vladivostok, where the temperature can be -20 C in winter," said Ganin, laughing.
Anna added: "We made the decision together. Yueyang has a fantastic history and natural environment. It"s a good city to live in."
The couple have been highlighted as a prime example of the foreign talent China is eager to attract－experts who can make an important contribution to the country"s development.
In 2004, Ganin received the Friendship Award from the State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs, the highest honor given to expats in China.
In 2010, the Hunan government gave Anna the Xiaoxiang Friendship Award for her contribution to art education, as well as for promoting artistic exchange between China and his home country.
Traditional Chinese culture has become an important influence in Ganin"s art. "China has many art styles, some of which can be used in modern arts, for example, clothes design," he said. "I also like Chinese characters. These pictographic words are really interesting."
In May 2015, Ganin was invited to a ceremony in Moscow to mark the 70th anniversary of victory in World War II, where he met with President Xi Jinping.
"I was impressed. Xi made speeches without any notes, and he remembered everybody present. Some Russian experts there had once worked with him, and he still remembered them," Ganin said. "He is modest, and I think he sets a very good example."
Ganin also paid close attention to the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China held in Beijing in October.
"It was really impressive. President Xi said that the living standards of all Chinese people will be much better in 2025. It is the program for the future and for the next generation of Chinese. It"s a great program."
Yueyang today is like a second hometown for the couple. Their 9-year-old son was born in the city.
"They can bargain at the market in quite fluent Chinese," said Chen Yu, director of the Hunan institute"s International Exchange Office. "They are like locals."