For the love of Chinese calligraphy
The pursuit of his Chinese dream has not been easy, but Jonathan Mondaut isn't about to call it quits yet.
Born in Talence, a small city in southwestern France, the 29-year-old boy has possessed a love for learning and discovering things since childhood. He recalled how he used to spend his days specializing in new technologies at a time when computers were still not common in his hometown. Sometimes he was disregarded as the weird one.
He first came into contact with Chinese characters when occasionally playing online video games at a competitive level after class to earn some money. He noticed that some Korean friends would use Chinese characters to write their names.
"These characters are visually beautiful and often poetic, and can give the learner a useful insight into the Chinese mind," he said.
Mondaut was so enamored with Chinese characters that he took a leap of faith in 2015 to pursue his interest of studying Chinese.
As a Chinese character lover, he was also learning Chinese calligraphy at a very early age. However, in France, finding a Chinese calligraphy teacher is not an easy task and even brushes, paper and ink are extremely difficult to find. Only when he arrived in Beijing did he literally begin practicing calligraphy.
"Chinese calligraphy is not just combined with simple lines and strokes. It illustrates how much the writer's character and personality can come through in the writing - just as with any visual art, it's a certain free-ness of gesture, a confidence," Mondaut said.
However, it's undoubtedly challenging for a foreigner to assess or weigh these intricacies without a full knowledge of the language. To do that, Jonathan furiously flipped through Chinese classical books and joined school clubs.
Speaking of his future plans, Jonathan responses with absolute certainty: "I want to learn more about China."
What he is focused on now is to fight for scholarships to learn Chinese ancient literature in China. He admits the result is uncertain -- that his love for Chinese is all he can lean on. "Actually it doesn't change the plan," he said. "I will still persist to learn Chinese ancient literature there no matter what, and eventually come back to China."