Opinion / China Dream in expats' eyes

"I married a beautiful Chinese woman."

By Randy Wright Updated: 2015-01-22 16:29

Randy Wright is a career journalist from the western United States who worked at 10 different newspapers over 35 years. He came to China in October 2013. Now, He is a senior editor with China Daily.

My biggest achievement for 2014 has to be my marriage to a beautiful Chinese woman from Tianjin named Wang Shijun. We met online, and got acquainted initially through Skype video calls. After a few weeks, I suggested that perhaps we should get together for lunch or dinner. I was willing to travel there from Beijing, but she insisted on coming north. At that time, I had no concept of the logistics. She lives an hour and a half by bus from downtown Tianjin. Then there’s the train ride to Beijing, followed by another hour on the subway to get to my place. All in all, it’s a five-hour journey. I asked her once to tell me why she would go to so much trouble to meet a man she barely knew in another city -- and a foreigner at that. She didn’t hesitate to answer. She said, simply, “I followed my heart.” Our wedding ceremony was held in the lobby of China Daily. Members of the newspaper staff constitute pretty much my entire circle of acquaintances, so it made sense to make it convenient. The cake was nine layers because that’s an auspicious number in China. A few days later, we departed on our memorable honeymoon to Shenzhen, Hong Kong, Huizhou and a warm southern beach resort.

One of my goals in coming to China was to learn the language. I’m making progress, but at a snail’s pace. This is what I regretted most in 2014. It seems there’s always something pressing to do that prevents me from studying. But some of the rudimentary stuff has cemented itself firmly in my old brain. To the taxi driver: “Turn right; turn left; go straight; stop here.” To the person on the street: “Hello, can you tell me where the subway is, or Bank of China?” To the cleaning lady (when paying her): “This is for you.” To my wife: “I love you; I miss you; I love you very much. Do you love me? Really?” To the supermarket cashier: “I want a bag.” To children (this always gets a smile because they are surprised to hear Chinese spoken by a foreigner): “What is your name? My name is Randy.” To anyone: “Goodbye.” To myself: “1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10”. To annoying, overly talkative individuals: “Shut up!” (I only mutter this under my breath; I never actually say it out loud. At least not yet.)

Biggest goal for 2015: I’ve really got to learn more Chinese. My New Year’s resolution is to sit down with my Rosetta Stone software for at least 30 minutes every day, and then pester my wife to drill me on words and phrases. A parallel goal is to help her with English. One way we do this is for me to make up a complicated sentence, and she memorizes it. This way, she gets the right accents, builds her vocabulary and learns to say the same thing in 10 different ways, which helps her fluency. I also sing to her.


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