by Yosley Carrero
HAVANA, Nov. 25 (Xinhua) -- Every day, Sochi Alay spends several hours at Cuba's Confucius Institute in Havana to help students understand the complexity of Chinese calligraphy and pronunciation.
The 42-year-old Chinese language professor, who has been living in the surroundings of the city's China Town and working at the institute for more than seven years, told Xinhua that his special connection with China dates back to childhood.
Among the memories of growing up, attending activities organized by the Chinese community in the Cuban capital remains vivid, said Alay, who is of Chinese descent.
With a deep love for China, a young Alay chose to go to Sun Yat-sen University in China's Guangdong Province to study Chinese language and literature.
Teaching Chinese at the Confucius Institute would not have been possible without Jorge Alay, his father, who also worked as a Chinese language professor at the institute and has continued to serve after retirement.
"My father instilled many values and principles into me, namely love for the motherland, discipline, respect and dedication to studies," said Alay.
"The support of my family has been fundamental in my life," he said.
Besides the Chinese language, Alay has also found Chinese martial arts a platform for spreading knowledge about Chinese traditions and customs among Cubans.
"I inherited from my grandfather and father the love for martial arts, which is in my blood," he said. "This is part of my family legacy."
As a Chinese language professor, Alay has witnessed a growing passion among Cubans for learning Chinese.
"Our student community is very diverse," he said. "Among pupils, we have senior citizens, workers and university students. I feel they are making progress."
The study of Chinese language and culture has been on the rise in Cuba thanks to the work of social organizations and institutions such as the Confucius Institute, which has seen thousands of students graduate since its founding in 2009.
Noting that Cuba was the first country in Latin America to establish diplomatic relations with China, Alay said the two countries share important historical links that make them more united and "share common values and principles since we are focused on the development of our socialist systems."
First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba and Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez is paying a state visit to China from Thursday to Saturday. Alay believed Diaz-Canel's visit would reinforce the 62-year-long diplomatic relations between the two countries.
"Cuba and China defend socialist values and principles," Alay said. "The visit of the Cuban president to China will boost the economic, social and political collaboration between the two countries."