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

2010, curiosity 

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

It's been an enabler to help me start my China-based business, China Skinny. It has helped me understand China and Chinese people a little better, and unexpectedly, has resulted in me understanding myself more, how I say things, and helped me better understand English. Everyone has a story, particularly people who are from a different culture like China, so I love being able to connect with people in a way that is comfortable for them and hear some of those stories. 

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

My business has enabled me to meet and work with interesting people from around the world. I've been invited to be a keynote speaker at events in many places such as London, Los Angeles, Barcelona, Dubai, Paris, Helsinki, Hong Kong, Sydney, Shanghai, Melbourne, Wellington, Auckland, Christchurch, Copenhagen, Beijing, Guangzhou 

What do you like most about the Chinese culture? 

The pragmatism and passion for food.

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

Lifestyles, tastes and what we do for fun. 

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

I think learning any language is healthy, opening one's mind and allowing them to see the world through another lens. Chinese is particularly relevant as it has become an increasing important country globally and for particularly for NZ, as a trading partner, a source of migrants, and sharing the same region. But it is largely misunderstood. Learning a language helps inform us a little more about China and its people, which is as important as ever geopolitical challenges creep more into our lives.