Arriving at Sheremetyevo International Airport (Russia), the Vietnamese press delegation participating in the upcoming Army Games 2020 did not feel so strange as one would feel in a new place, as we heard Vietnamese spoken by the hosts. Welcoming us were officers from the Vietnamese Defense Attaché Office in Russia and cute Russian girls with their good command of Vietnamese.

Huong (Makarova Ekaterina) with reporter Lam Manh Toan (right) of the People's Army Newspaper. (Photo credit: Trong Hai)

Nazimova Andzeika is beautiful, young, and neat in uniform. Her Vietnamese was so standard that it surprised us all and made us feel warm. Since that moment, Nazimova became the focus of the airport’s terminal. Taking photos, answering questions, interpreting, she was busy all morning but her eyes always smiled. She might have a special affection for the Vietnamese people.

On the next day, when talking over the Zalo platform with a friend of Nazimova, we found out that Nazimova is called Tien (Fairy) in Vietnamese. She learned the Vietnamese language at the Moscow State Linguistics University. Under a Vietnam-Russia student exchange program, she further studied Vietnamese at the University of Languages and International Studies under the National University, Hanoi for six months. She plans to be a doctoral candidate at the Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam in the time ahead.

Leaving the airport, we were driven to Salut Hotel some 60km from the airport. When the car stopped, we waited for health declaration. Oleg Nikolaevich, a representative from a Russian team in charge of supporting Vietnamese reporters during their time in Russia, made an interesting order in Vietnamese, “You all can get off and smoke.” None of us smoked, but we were all happy getting off the vehicle, felt relaxed and breathed the fresh air of Moscow.

We can feel that behind Oleg’s earnestness was his interest in even small things. He assisted the press delegation in carrying luggage, making health declarations and taking samples for COVID-19 testing, and in completing hotel check-in procedures. His good deeds were respectful, demonstrating the warmth of the host Russia, especially in the context of strict control of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The third member of the Russian support team is First Lieutenant Ekaterina Babenko. She is beautiful and strict. Everything she did was in order. At first, the Vietnamese reporters were quite apprehensive of her, but few minutes later, they had good feelings and admiration for her. She wholeheartedly supported the Vietnamese press delegation from the smallest things, such as asking for wifi passwords, finding sockets for reporters to recharge their laptop batteries. She worked until 3-4 p.m. when the last members of the press delegation went to their quarantine rooms.

Another Russian girl who made the Vietnamese press delegation felt warm is Huong, whose Russian name is Makarova Ekaterina. She wore a facemask. While looking at her blue eyes, the opposite person can feel that she is a young and friendly Russian girl. She worked as an interpreter. She and Tien were classmates at Moscow State Linguistics University. Both of them also studied in Vietnam for six months. Asked why she studied such a difficult language as Vietnamese, Huong answered, “Actually, the Vietnamese language chose me.” She explained that at her school, the manager selected a foreign language for a newcomer. She felt that the selection was correct to her. “Right in the first class, I felt the Vietnamese language beautiful and impressive,” Huong said.

Huong was ready and willing to support the Vietnamese press delegation because she is interested in practicing her Vietnamese and journalism. The press team often raised questions to her.

Receiving thanks from us for her great support, Huong said that she loved the work as she loves Vietnam. She went on to say that, “As I know the Vietnamese people are kind and hospitable. I love the way of life of the Vietnamese. They always support each other. I have some Vietnamese friends and they are meaningful to me.”

Just a few hours after arriving in Russia, the feeling of anxiety of a newcomer disappeared. It was thanks to the hospitality of the Russian people. Russia appeared friendly and warm.

Written by PANO reporters from Moscow, Russia

Translated by Mai Huong