征文42 ▏ Graham: The gap year in China that became 18!

家外之家 2021
征文42 ▏ Graham: The gap year in China that became 18!


Name : Graham Faulkner
姓名:朱义豪Country of Origin : The United Kingdom


Occupation : Translator


Years in China : 18 years


People often ask me why I came to China. To be honest, I’ve never really had a quick and ready answer to that question, other than simply saying that I was curious. I didn’t know much about China before I arrived here. Its language and culture were a mystery to me. As a young child, I remember being mesmerized by TV images of colorful lions dancing in a crowded street – maybe it was some kind of documentary about China? Who knows. But those images really stuck with me. For the most part, my early impressions of China were founded on cultural stereotypes – and I’m sure the same was true for many people in the West at that time. But I did always feel that there was something very romantic about the East: The very word China conjured up images of a distant, exotic land, an ancient civilization, somewhere truly foreign. As I neared the end of university, I had an increasing desire to do something bold and adventurous, to go somewhere nobody I personally knew had ever visited. And with that, I chose China as the destination for my gap year. That was more than eighteen years ago, and I’m still here.人们经常问我为什么来中国。说实话,对于这个问题,我脑海中不会闪现一个现成的答案,除了简单地说我很好奇以外。我来到中国之前,对这个国家了解不多,它的语言和文化对我来说是个谜。我年幼的时候被电视上五颜六色的狮子在拥挤的街道上跳舞的画面所吸引——也许那是某个讲述中国的纪录片?谁知道呢。但这些画面真的给我留下了深刻印象。我对中国的早期印象停留在固有的文化定式——我相信当时许多西方人也是如此。我真心觉得东方是非常浪漫的。中国这个词让人联想到一个遥远的、异域的土地,一个古老的文明,一个真正陌生的地方。临近大学毕业,我渴望做一些大胆且冒险的事情,去一个我认识的人都没去过的地方。就这样,我选择了中国作为我“间隔年”旅途的目的地。那是 18 年前的事了,而我现在依然留在中国。
I arrived in Xiamen in 2003. It was a teaching position, arranged through a joint initiative between the British and Chinese governments. It didn’t take me long to realize just how fortunate I was to have been posted in Xiamen. Within days, I had fallen in love with this small (still large by UK standards) garden city on the sea. I loved wandering through the winding streets of the old town, hiking up hills that looked out to sea, exploring the exotic, open-air markets dotted around the island, and attempting talk to the locals in my almost non-existent Chinese which, by some miracle, seemed to improve by the day. I felt a strong desire to communicate with the local people in their language, to blend in and become a part of the community, and not just be another passerby.我 2003 年来到厦门当老师,这个职位是根据中英两国政府间联合倡议而设置的。来到这儿不久,我就感到自己非常幸运,我马上就爱上了这个海滨花园小城(按英国的标准,厦门是座大城市)。我喜欢在老城区蜿蜒曲折的街道上闲逛,爬山看海,探索遍布全岛的具有异国情调的露天市场,我还尝试用我蹩脚的汉语与当地人交流。我的汉语水平也奇迹般地不断提升。我非常渴望通过与当地人用汉语交流,从而融入他们的社区,而不仅仅是一个过客。

As my Chinese improved, my connection to China, its people, and its culture grew stronger. The language barrier was soon gone, and being able to talk to absolutely anyone was incredibly liberating. I used to love chatting to people in shops, putting the world to rights with taxi drivers, and showing off my new-found skills when friends came to visit. And as I learned to read Chinese, I was able to engage with Chinese culture on a more advanced level and have more sophisticated conversations.



At that time China had such an amazing positive energy. In fact, it still does. People worked hard – incredibly hard – and they were optimistic about the future. Cities were being built from the ground up. The streets were clean and safe at all hours. Xiameners were proud of their city yet modest and welcoming to outsiders. You could just tell that China was going somewhere, and it was exciting to experience that first-hand and to really be a part of it. I suppose that’s the main reason I chose to stay on after my gap year ended. There was just so much more to experience and discover.


That was quite a while ago now. China has changed vastly, but the things that made me fall in love with this country have endured. Work has since taken me to other cities in China, first Beijing and now Shanghai. I love these cities too, but Xiamen is the place I hold most dear, and I return to the city whenever I have the chance. Though it’s been years since I’ve lived there, my face still lights up every time I hear its name, and I never fail to sing its praises to people I meet. For that reason, I’d definitely call Xiamen my home away from home.


Former MTS employee Graham cheering with MTS CEO Frank Wei

作者:朱义豪 翻译:潘泽彬

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