When and why did you start learning Chinese?
I started learning Chinese when I arrived in China in 2005. I could pretty much only say “你好！”, “一，二，三”, ”谢谢！”. But after one year as a kindergarten English teacher and sitting in on the 3 year-old’s Chinese lessons, I became conversationally fluent.
What is the best thing about learning Chinese?
Ultimately I reckon the best thing about learning Chinese is the opportunity to connect deeply with Chinese people. If you can connect with people and form strong 关系, then you make strong friendships, and as the saying goes: 多一个朋友，多一条路！
What opportunities have you gained because of your Chinese learning?
I entered the 2009 汉语桥国际大学生中文比赛 or Chinese Bridge Competition and won a 3-year scholarship to any university in China. I went on to study Political Science in Chinese at a top uni in Bejing and landed a gig hosting a travel show for China’s High Speed Train network for a few years. That was pretty cool.
What would you say to other Kiwis who are thinking about learning Chinese?
Follow your own interests when learning Chinese. For me, it was music and singing, but whatever it is, if you surround yourself with Chinese speakers with similar passions, learning Chinese will feel more like fun and less like studying.
Do you have a favourite Chinese word or expression? Why do you like it?