Feature: Two ancient civilizations embrace in tiny Greek island

By Liu Yongqiu, Chen Zhanjie
LEFKADA, Greece, Dec. 9 — For every Chinese, it is common to see the famous Four Books (The Great Learning, The Doctrine of the Mean, The Confucian Analects, and The Works of Mencius) printed in traditional or simplified Chinese character, but it is rare to see them printed in Greek, one of the most difficult languages in the world.
That explains why Du Qiwen, the Chinese ambassador to Greece, was caught in a big surprise when he was presented a set of Greek version of Four Books in Lefkada, a small island in Greece’s western Ionian Sea.
It was part of the activities of the “Chinese Day” staged on Dec. 7 and Dec. 8 in Lefkada.
“It was totally out of my guess. The Four Books had been translated into Greek and published many years ago. It shows the residents of Lefkada has world-wide view,” commented Du on the gift.
The translator of the Four Books is Sotiris Chalikia, a Greek scholar and writer hailed from Lefkada.
“I hope the translation into Greek of the Four Books will facilitate the study of China and Chinese culture by young Greeks and promote the understanding between the two great civilizations,” said Costas Aravanis, mayor of Lefkada in presenting the gift.
The book giving ceremony kicked off Du’s one-hour presentation entitled “China & Sino-Greek Friendship and Cooperation.”
Du made an impressive presentation of China’s history, economy, beauty, as well as the historic and deepening relationship among the two cradles of the eastern and western civilizations and the enormous potential for further development.
“China and Greece are close friends enjoying good cooperation,” the Chinese ambassador added.
Local business leaders as well as those from the Chinese community in Greece also attended the event.
“The presentation is well beyond my expectations,” said Katerina Sklaveniti, who works for local media and a nongovernmental organization.
As many islanders of Lefkada, Sklaveniti’s initial impression on China came from the artists participating in the Lefkada International Folklore Fesitval, an cultural event held annually since 1962 in the island.
“They are so cute, so professional. I like Chinese acrobats very much,” recalled Sklaveniti, adding that she hopes one day she can visit the magic land named China.
The presentation was so successful that the Chinese guests were warmly invited to join Lefkada dancers during the short coffee break, before Du and Aravanis proceeded to inaugurate a photo exhibition entitled “Beautiful China.”
The 40 photos on exhibition offered visitors a glimpse of China’s rich history, culture and soul.
Future visitors to the Cultural Center of Lefkada can still have a taste of China’s culture through the 55 books and 22 disks donated by the Chinese Embassy to the center.
The trip also brings the guests to the eastern town of Nydri, the island’s biggest resort by far. Facilitated by the Chinese and Greek officials, tour operators of the island and those of the Chinese communities explore ways of bringing more tourists from China to Lefkada.
The holding of the “Chinese Day” fulfilled a dream of Ioanna Filippa, cultural and external relations officer of Lefkada municipality.
Upon learning the “Chinese Day” event held in the Greek island of Milos in early November from a media report of Xinhua News Agency, Filippa was eager to host a similar one for Lefkada.
To Filippa’s great satisfaction, common efforts from the municipality and the Chinese embassy bore fruits in less than one month.
Commenting on the events, Du said “culture is the strongest and most powerful thing in the world,” adding that Lefkada can play an important role in promoting relations between Greece and China.
Recognizing the cultural importance of Lefkada, the Chinese ambassador said, “Lefkada is a legendary island. Apart from its natural beauty, the residents of Lefkada have world-wide cultural view. This has been proved by the well-known International Folklore Festival held every summer.”
With only around 22,000 residents and 336 square kilometers of land, Lefkada is not a big island by any physical standard. However, it is one of the top tourist destinations among all Greek islands.
The myth about Sappho’s suicide at Cape Lefkada, as well as the possibility that the island being Homer’s Ithaca helps making this island more attractive to potential visitors.
Hailing the success of the event, Aravanis said,”the Chinese Day is a new beginning of the relationship between Lefkada and China. The exchange and cooperation of the two ancient civilizations will continue, forever.”[db:内容2]

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