Celebrating Russian culture in Ealing

The ceremony took place last Wednesday in Ealing's central library, with representatives of local organisations, the Russian-speaking diaspora, Russian diplomats and a delegation from the Russian World Foundation attending. On behalf of the local council Mrs Kumar expressed sincere gratitude to the Russian World Foundation for giving 800 Russian-language books to the central library. "The addition of this collection will attract new groups of readership to our library," the deputy mayor stated, noting that the area has more than five thousand Russian-speaking residents.

Tatyana Bokova, deputy executive director of the Russian World Foundation, who spoke at the ceremony, reported that the idea of creating a Russian World endowment for Ealing library came up just one month ago, when a delegation from the foundation was taking part in the second "Russian language outside Russia" international forum in London.

"We didn't expect such an open and immediate response, and such willingness to cooperate, from Ealing Council," Tatyana Bokova admitted. "From receiving the council's agreement to today's ceremony was just three weeks, which is remarkable. So I would just like to say welcome to the Russian world!"

One of the foundation's most effective partners in the British capital is the Znaniye [Knowledge] Russian School. It is thanks to the energetic efforts of Aina Shareefy, the school's headteacher, that something which only yesterday seemed unlikely has become possible. Ealing Council was the first to respond to the proposal from Moscow, noted Ms Shareefy, not least because the Znaniye School has now been operating in Ealing for six years and has become the leading supplementary educational establishment for Russian-speaking children from Russia and other countries of the former USSR and Eastern Europe in West London.

The official ceremony was followed by a performance by the Znaniye School children's dance group, and the adults - Russians and Britons, parents, officials and library staff - joined in the circle dance to the tune of `Kalinka'.

But this was not the end of the cultural part of the proceedings. Tatyana Bokova, a well known children's poet and composer, performed some of her own poetry and songs to the children in the library's Green room. The children liked the songs and verses by the deputy executive director of the Russian World Foundation so much that for a long time they didn't want to let their guest go.

Incidentally, by yesterday the library had already started loaning the books presented by the Russian World Foundation. To the delight of all present, Tatyana Bokova reported that in the near future the Russian World section of Ealing library will receive the Gold Collection of Russian Cinema, as well as some multimedia educational programmes for children.

The ceremony and festivities were attended by Oleg Sepelev, Counsellor at the Russian embassy in London, Artur Matikyan, representing the Russian Federal Agency for Cooperation, and Irina Stepanova, head of educational programmes for the Russian World Foundation.

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