China－My Second Home: Famous Latvian Sinologist Peteris Pildegovics
"In 1949, I was 11. One day, holding a map, my father told me that a new country called the People's Republic of China was founded. I would never think after that I could forge a close bond with China for more than 50 years. China has become my 'second home'. "
Speaking of his relationship with China, Peteris Pildegovics (with Bei Degao as his Chinese name), the famous Latvian sinologist and Latvian Director of the Confucius Institute at the University of Latvia, is so touched and almost moved to tears.
Prof. Peteris Pildegovics telling his love for and friendship with China
On Dec. 13th, at the International Chinese Forum held by the College of International Culture of South China Normal University, Prof. Pildegovics talked about his 50-year-relationship with China, history of engaging in Chinese teaching and sinology study and the process as well as stories of China-Latvia cultural exchanges.
After graduating from the Institute of Oriental Studies at Moscow University, Prof. Pildegovics worked as a Chinese teacher at high schools and universities in Latvia, and then worked as a journalist in Xinhua News Agency in China. Later he served as the first Charge d'Affaires of the Latvian Embassy in China and Director of the Department of Asian and African Affairs of the Latvian Foreign Ministry. In spite of his extensive experience, all the titles he had are always Chinese-centered.
When he was working as a journalist of Xinhua News Agency, Prof. Pildegovics had to deal with 25-30 articles covering everything from agriculture, medicine, economy to livelihood every day. Based on a large collection of corpus, he compiled a 300-page dictionary for commonly used words. With increasing bilateral exchanges, there are more people learning Chinese in Latvia. After returning to Latvia, considering Russian-Chinese bilingual dictionaries are the only tool for Latvian students to learn Chinese, Prof. Pildegovics compiled the Chinese-Latvian Dictionary after eight years of hard work.
Prof. Pildegovics reaped harvest in 2016 by gaining three awards. The first is on Aug. 23rd, among a dozen of winners globally, Prof. Pildegovics was awarded the Special Book Award of China by Vice Premier Liu Yandong personally. Then on Nov. 5th, at the Meeting of Heads of Government of China and Central and Eastern European Countries held in Riga, Premier Li Keqiang met with Prof. Pildegovics and accepted his gift－the Chinese-Latvian Dictionary. Premier Li said that this is a heavy and profound gift as well as a bridge for communication between China and Latvia. On Dec. 10, at the 11th Confucius Institute Conference, Prof. Pildegovics was conferred “Advanced Individual of Confucius Institutes”.
Peteris Pildegovics presenting Selected Chinese-Latvian and Latvian-Chinese Dictionary compiled by himself to Li Keqiang
Prof. Pildegovics’s friendship with China began in 1949, when the People’s Republic of China had just been founded. From an 11-year-old boy knowing nothing about China to a world-renowned sinologist, Prof. Pildegovics is steadily moving forward along the path of sinology research and promotion with patience and perseverance. Just as he said: "I am nearly 90 years old, but I will continue to contribute to Chinese cultural exchanges!”