World / China-Iran

An Iranian who now feels he is 'more Chinese'

By Yan Dongjie ( Updated: 2016-01-22 14:24

Pouya Amani says he does not know his compatriot Arash Estilaf, who has made a name for himself on Chinese television with his humor. In fact, Amani, 18, is probably even better known among Chinese TV audiences as a result of his appearances on reality shows.

Some of his fans even call him "the national little brother", and his Twitter-like weibo account has 370,000 followers; Estilaf's has 70,000.

"It feels really good that so many people in China call me brother, especially given that I'm an only child," says Amani, whose Chinese name is Puya.

Amani moved to China with his parents, both international trading merchants, in 2009 after he completed high school in Iran when he was 12. After arriving, he enrolled in Liaoning Normal University in Dalian, Liaoning province, to study Chinese, as did his parents, in their 40s.

"The happiest and most interesting thing is that my parents and I were in the same class," Amani says. "It's funny when you see three Iranians, and from one family, too, seated at the front of a classroom, or together in an end-of-semester ceremony."

Amani says he excels in oral Chinese, his mother is good at Chinese writing and his father is the grammarian of the family.

In addition to becoming fluent in Chinese, Amani has mastered a couple of Chinese traditional entertainment skills with which he has impressed audiences: comic monologues, tongue twisters and a brand of humor particular to the city of Tianjin.

He first came to wide public attention in April 2015 when he became a host in A Bright World, a show on Jiangsu TV in which foreigners talk in Chinese on various subjects. He later appeared in several other TV shows, including Hello China on Guangzhou TV and Who's Still Standing? on Jiangsu TV.

In 2014, he took part in the Chinese Bridge language competition for foreign students, in which he finished fourth.

"I feel I'm more Chinese now, perhaps because I've eaten so much Chinese food," Amani says.

He hopes a Chinese media organization will open a TV channel in Persian (not in Iran, but in the language of Persian) one day so Iranians can learn more about China, he says.

"More and more people in Iran have begun to learn Chinese, especially over the past five years. The two countries have so much in common. We both like family get-togethers and events like Spring Festival – and Teheran has smog."

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