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A French resident's China adventure

By Gui Qian | China Daily | Updated: 2024-01-31 10:42
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Ollivier Jean-Baptiste posed for a photo at the Forbidden City in Beijing, dressed as an imperial Chinese noble.[Photo provided to China Daily]

Ollivier Jean-Baptiste, 25, a vlogger from France living in China, delivered a speech on the latest episode of the China Daily Youth Power series. The episode, named "Timeless Tales from China", was aired on Jan 30.

In his speech, titled "Bridging Cultures: A Personal Journey from France to China", Jean-Baptiste spoke about his initial impressions of China. Just like his family and friends, he saw China as a distant and mysterious place with a culture entirely different from France and other Western countries.

The idea of visiting China first came to him when his uncle, who worked in China, returned with endless praise for the Chinese lifestyle. "Everything, from the food to the scenery, was incredibly appealing to me," he recalled.

Later, a Chinese woman introduced him personally to the everyday life of Chinese people. He learned to use WeChat, Alipay, and navigating Chinese social media, which exposed him to a different way of living. The woman later became his wife, and they moved to Beijing together in 2022, which Jean-Baptiste described as "eye-opening" for him.

"She took me to see the flag-raising ceremony. Witnessing countless young people rushing toward the flag, I was deeply moved. It's a country of strength, unity, and love," he said.

When Jean-Baptiste visited his wife's hometown for the first time, he couldn't speak much Chinese. While he was riding a bike, a group of relatives of his wife started shouting "waiguoren", which means "foreigner", and ran after him. He understood that this was their way of showing interest and hospitality.

"I felt their friendliness toward the French. Many, even those who spoke little English, would say 'welcome to China'. I felt the warmth of home in a foreign country and was thrilled to live in China," he said.

All of these experiences made Jean-Baptiste eager to explore different aspects of Chinese culture. He visited the Great Wall in Beijing and the Terracotta Army in Xi'an, Northwest China's Shaanxi province. When he returned to France for vacation and shared photos of his travels and life in China with his family, they were also excited.

Apart from his personal experiences in China, Jean-Baptiste noticed that friendly interactions between the two countries are also increasing. After learning about the 15-day visa-free travel from France to China, his family and friends couldn't wait to book their trip to China.

"I'm overjoyed to host them during the 60th anniversary of China-France diplomatic relations, showcasing China's modern development and rich history," he said. "I may be just an ordinary person with limited influence, but everyone can be a cultural ambassador."



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