M A N D A R I N S U P E R S T A R
M A N D A R I N S U P E R S T A R
New Zealand Herald
Proficiency: Upper Intermediate
Shilo Kino is a journalist at the New Zealand Herald.
Based in Tauranga, Shilo began her Mandarin journey when serving as a missionary in Hong Kong in 2015.
Since then Shilo has had numerous unique experiences arise as a result of her Chinese speaking ability, including becoming a member of the Tauranga Chinese Friendship Society and the Asia Leadership Network where she's made lifelong friends.
When did you start learning Chinese? What inspired you to take up the language?
I started learning Mandarin as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 2015. Missionaries serve in a country chosen by Church leaders, who are inspired by God. Fortunately, I was sent to Hong Kong where I was able to serve the people from the Mainland who were living in Hong Kong.
Tell us about your Chinese language learning journey? What has been the most unexpected or rewarding part of the experience?
My Chinese language journey was… interesting.
I had no experience in learning Chinese so it was the hardest thing I have ever done! I spent so many nights crying and pulling my hair out, wondering how I was ever going to learn a crazy language with five tones.
As I learned the Chinese language, something incredible happened. I fell madly in love with the culture. Their customs, traditions, food, everything. It was like the culture became a part of me and it's never left.
What opportunities have opened up for you as a result of your Chinese speaking ability?
The opportunities have been endless.
I am a member of the Tauranga Chinese friendship society where we hold cultural activities, teaching the local community about the Chinese culture.
I was selected this year as part of the Asia Leadership Network, a community of members strengthening New Zealand’s relationships with Asia. For work, I cover Chinese stories, and I actually did a piece to cam in Chinese for Chinese Language Week last year.
However, the best thing about learning Chinese is all the incredible people I have met. I’ve made lifelong friends who I love so much (and I get invited to their homes to eat dumplings which is the best!)
What do you like most about Chinese culture?
My absolute favourite thing about Chinese people is the importance they place on whanau, which is very similar to Maori culture. Family is so important to Chinese people, I love how they look after their parents and don't send them to retirement homes! I also love the way Chinese people express their love through food. You probably won't hear Aunty say "I love you", but she will serve you dumplings until you’re in a food coma - which I feel is much more meaningful than words.
Why do you think other New Zealanders should learn Chinese? Do you have any tips for those thinking of taking up the language?
Aotearoa is bustling with Chinese people and the population will continue to grow. Learning Chinese will enrich your life, connect you with Chinese people living here and you will also make many friends! Oh, and it is a global language spoken by millions around the world so hello career opportunities.
My best advice is that you need to find your purpose. Why do you want to learn Chinese? Mine was so I could serve the people as a missionary. What's yours? Once you know, find yourself a fluent Mandarin speaker and become language buddies. There are also multiple apps and podcasts. I really like Yoyo Chinese!