USEUROPEAFRICAASIA 中文双语Français
Opinion
Home / Opinion / My China, my story

Man-Made in China

By Mark B. Munro | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2017-09-29 17:24

China is known around the world for manufacturing and production of goods. The phrase 'Made in China' has become synonymous with China's rise as an economic powerhouse in the world.

Man-Made in China

When I first moved to China in 2002 I was a 23-year-old fresh graduate who had studied and lived in Europe and wanted a bit more adventure out of life than my hometown in Canada offered. I had the good fortune of studying under a professor who advised me to teach in China for a year, and test the waters in what he said would become the most important country of the 21st century.

Man-Made in China

Well, that was 2002, and now in 2017 I am no longer 23, but a man of 38 who is happily married in Beijing to a beautiful Chinese wife with two gorgeous children. My road in China has not been easy, with myself being pushed to the limits mentally, emotionally, psychologically and at times even physically - but have I arrived today as a man. No longer the young 20-something looking for adventure, I can say I am a man who holds his head high, has achieved his dream job and pretty much wouldn’t trade his life for anyone in the world (well, maybe Brad Pitt…or Roger Federer). As the National Holiday approaches, I would like to share some of the highs and woes that I have experienced during my 12 years in the Middle Kingdom and what ‘Man-Made in China’ means to me.

Any language, let alone Chinese, is not an easy skill to master.. I remember coming to China with my professor's words in mind to "take everything with a grain of rice, be respectful, courteous, and learn the language". My goal right from the start was to become as fluent as I could be. In the Canadian tradition of one of our greatest exports 'Da Shan' (aka Mark Rosewell), I took the Chinese name 'Da Hai' as a tribute to him. I wanted to be just like Da Shan. Looking back now, in reality, we can never be like anyone else, we can only become ourselves.

I remember my first tiny dorm in Wuxi, Jiangsu province, was filled with Chinese characters and phrases from the floor to the ceiling, trying to master as many phrases as I could on a weekly basis. After the first year I was confident enough to taxis, go to restaurants and even travel by myself. Fifteen years later, I still don’t have the pronunciation or fluency of Da Shan, but have become fluent enough to carry on a conversation in almost any part of this great country.

Man-Made in China

As a teacher, employment can also be a precarious measure, and finding the right job has not been easy. I have worked in private language institutes, public schools, and now perhaps the most prestigious private international school in Beijing, if not the country. My advice to new teachers in China is to learn your craft, bring a lot of energy to every class and get your students thinking and talking about their learning as much as possible. Chinese students can be shy but diligent; as a foreign educator you are not their just to entertain them and show them movies, but to engage them as much as possible with the language and break the mold of rote learning and test-taking. Master your craft, keep a positive attitude, and opportunities will arise that you never thought were possible. I have taught at schools in the grasslands of Inner Mongolia, small towns in Hebei, the Hunan countryside and beyond. Represent yourself and your country well and the results will resonate with your students. As an educator in China, you really are contributing something positive to the world and bringing not only language into their lives, but people from different cultures closer together.

Man-Made in China

Here, I must talk about family – and while I could go on and on about the different nuances of Chinese and Western families, I would just like to say that I never dreamed I would have such a beautiful family. My wife is truly incredible and one of the genuinely kindest, smartest and inside-out beautiful people I have ever met. We got married in 2007 and will celebrate our 10-year wedding anniversary this October. Through our love for each other, we now have two gorgeous boys aged 5 and 2. Our 5-year-old is completely bilingual in English and Chinese and is as (if not more) humorous and intelligent as his father. He always shows respect to other children and has a keen interest in learning. Our 2-year-old is quite special. We learned early in the pregnancy that he would be born with a cleft lip and cleft palate – the same defect I was born with – and has been a light and joy of our lives ever since he arrived.

Man-Made in China

I would just like to say a word about cleft lip and cleft palate to our readers. It is one of the most common birth defects that a child can have, but is just that – a minor defect at birth. It is easily repairable and not a cause for concern later in development and certainly no reason to consider aborting the baby. I have lived a full and adventurous life and have no reason to expect my son not to be able to as well. While we could have easily flown back to Canada to have it repaired, we stayed in China and trusted the Chinese doctors who ended up doing a wonderful job.

Man-Made in China

To those foreigners reading this I would like to wish you all the success and fulfillment living in China has given me. Be wise and mindful during your time here. Chinese are a proud nation and they should be respected at all times – remember you are a guest in their country. Stay positive, and don't be cynical. The cultural differences are vast, but part of your job here is to bridge them and bring the world a bit closer together. Travel as much as you can – the natural beauty in China can be other-worldly breathtaking and the history and culture is like nothing else you will see anywhere. A wise man once said, "fortune favors the brave" – you have made a brave choice to move here. Enjoy your adventure, enjoy your life and learn not just about the country, but who you are as a person in this world. I still have much to learn, but have today become a man through persistence, hard-work, patience and understanding. China is here to stay friends, push on through the hard times, enjoy the good times, and you yourself can become 'Man-Made'.

The author is an English & History teacher at Harrow International School Beijing and also a China Daily contributor.

Most Viewed in 24 Hours
BACK TO THE TOP
Copyright 1995 - . All rights reserved. The content (including but not limited to text, photo, multimedia information, etc) published in this site belongs to China Daily Information Co (CDIC). Without written authorization from CDIC, such content shall not be republished or used in any form. Note: Browsers with 1024*768 or higher resolution are suggested for this site.
License for publishing multimedia online 0108263

Registration Number: 130349
FOLLOW US