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UN Chief Welcomes Chinese New Year by Exhibiting Calligraphy at UN

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon displayed one of his Chinese calligraphy work on Tuesday at an exhibition held at the UN headquarters, sending his good wishes to the Chinese people as the Year of the Dragon is coming.

Ban's work contains two Chinese characters, which means "peace." Although the strokes seem a little bit immature, the calligraphy as a whole is well-balanced and beautiful.

In his remarks at the opening ceremony of the Chinese calligraphy exhibition sponsored by the Chinese Permanent Mission to the UN and the Office of Chinese Language Council International, Ban recalled his complex with calligraphy.

"Calligraphy is one of the world's long and great artistic traditions. It is also common cultural heritage of China, Japan and Korea," he said.

Calling himself a "long-time fan of calligraphy," Ban told the audience that he began to practice calligraphy when he was a little boy at elementary school.

Furthermore, the UN chief generously shared his experiences in taking calligraphy lessons from a Chinese professor in the past few weeks. "Calligraphy is simply a lovely form of handwriting. But let me tell you, calligraphy is difficult, hard, very hard."

"Believe it or not, horizontal stroke is very difficult, just drawing a line horizontally, my hands used to be trembled all the time," Ban said. His words immediately drew a burst of laughter and applause.

"When it (calligraphy) comes to running style, I could not even dream of it. I was told that it would take a minimum of five years for me to even think about writing in running style. Sometimes after lesson, I had back pain," Ban said with a great amount of honesty.

"You may wonder why I do it. Calligraphy brings peace of mind. One must concentrate. You cannot think about anything else. You need to devote yourself into every line, every dot and movement. All of them adding together bring peace of mind," he explained.

Ban considered calligraphy as a bridge of mutual appreciation and mutual understanding. "I have written (the characters of ) peace. This work is sending an important message to the world. As secretary-general, I am committed to bring peace all around the world."

Li Baodong, Chinese permanent representative to the UN, indicated that Chinese calligraphy has developed in a way that integrates the best of each style and allows each school to coexist and thrive. "This coincides with the spirit of cultural diversity and harmony in the world advocated by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the United Nations," he told the ceremony.

According to Li, since Chinese calligraphy was introduced to other countries more than 2,000 years ago, it has been gradually accepted and liked by people from all over the world.

The works of Chinese calligraphy written by UN staff from different countries may not be labelled as professional, it however showed their love toward Chinese language as well as their own understanding of the beauty and diversity of Chinese culture.

Mauricio Saavedra from Bolivia is a data specialist of the United Nations Population Fund. He had two works exhibited with one of them meaning "Silence is gold."

"I have been learning Chinese for three years," he said. "Calligraphy helped me to gain in-depth understanding of some Chinese characters and phrases. It is very motivating to keep learning the language and to further more appreciate its beauty." 

Ұ̳ й ʺׯ