When did you start learning Chinese? What inspired you to take up the language?
I started learning about mid way through 2018. Before that I had always thought Chinese was too hard and boring. But having lots of Chinese friends, I could begin to see the value in learning it, and the countless doors it could open me up to in the future, so I signed up!
Tell us about your Chinese language learning journey? What has been the most unexpected or rewarding part of the experience?
For me my Chinese Language learning journey has been full of fun. I think the reason why I could learn so quickly was because I actually enjoyed what I was doing, and it felt more like a hobby than a class. The most rewarding part for me was going to China and just being able to whip out a few random words to the locals. They are always so grateful, even if it is a really poor effort on your behalf!
What opportunities have opened up for you as a result of your Chinese speaking ability?
In 2019 I was chosen by the Confucius Institute to go on the 2019 summer camp to China. This was really great, as I could get a more authentic view of China, rather than looking at the usual tourist spots. Also I made a ton of new friends, both kiwi and Chinese, many of whom I still keep in touch with to this day!
What do you like most about the Chinese culture?
Obviously I think all aspects of Chinese culture are beautiful - the history, language, art, music. But I would definitely be lying if I didn't say the food. I mean who doesn't like dumplings and noodles!
What are the most striking differences between Chinese and Kiwi culture?
I think I could write a whole book on this. The culture shock was real when going to China. I'm not sure if this is the biggest, but it is definitely the one that stuck with me the most - the hospitality. Chinese people are on just a whole 'nother level with their hospitality! They always bring you gifts and make sure you're well fed, it's awesome!
Why do you think other New Zealanders should learn Chinese? Do you have any tips for anyone thinking of taking up the language?
China is such a big part of the world, and with New Zealand having such a large Chinese population, and growing links to China internationally, I think its increasingly more important to make sure you have a good understanding of the culture and language. It's such a unique and interesting country with so much to offer, I think you're missing out if you aren't learning it!