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Cleo Gilmour

When did you start learning Chinese? What inspired you to take up the language?

A good friend encouraged me to apply for a Prime Minister's scholarship to Asia after I finished university. I've always liked how learning another language helps you think differently because you learn new concepts and ideas that might not exist in your native language. 

Tell us about your Chinese language learning journey? What has been the most unexpected or rewarding part of the experience?

I studied full time in Taiwan then went on to intern at United Media Solution in Shanghai through the Asia New Zealand Foundation. Being able to speak Mandarin meant I could really get stuck into learning about Chinese social media and make the most of live in a very digital first city. Organisations like the Asia New Zealand Foundation have given me the chance to meet amazing people - all doing interesting things that you might not find in a uni pamphlet or job board. I met the co-founders of LILO Desserts through the NZ China Young Associates. Our combined experiences living and working in China/APAC drove a lot of the insights that went into developing LILO. 

What opportunities have opened up for you as a result of your Chinese speaking ability?

(See above) 

What do you like most about the Chinese culture? 

The tea. All of the tea. 

What are the most striking differences between Chinese and Kiwi culture?

China changes so quickly. It always blew my mind when I would see a grandparent and their grandchild on a train and thinking what that grandparent has lived through vs the world that kid is growing up in. I think it's hard for Kiwis to fathom the pace of change in China. 

Why do you think other New Zealanders should learn Chinese? Do you have any tips for anyone thinking of taking up the language?

Learning a language teaches you to think differently, makes you more creative and means you can discover more delicious things to eat at a Chinese restaurant. 

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