翻译：Ouattara Nanfro (fr_en)、何羽婷(fr_zh)
It is always by chance that we fulfill our destiny.
Just as I have always preferred mixtures and alloys: mixing flavors in cooking or alloying materials in general, I have always felt a little cramped in my culture. So, in order to add a little salt to the caramel of my life in Belgium, I felt like going “elsewhere”.
After having visited many countries I realized that the best place to live was China, and this after having walked the length and breadth of the country for three months at the end of the last century.
Back in my flat homeland, I made the decision to learn Mandarin. It was the best idea of my life, because although I didn’t manage to learn this language, it allowed me to meet the woman of my life: my Chinese teacher.
A year later we were married and jumped over the Great Wall hand in hand. We landed in Xiamen, because it was in this charming city that her mother lived.
Lasting happiness does not come from the acquired, but from perpetual change.
After spending a few years in the art business between Belgium and China, I was offered to teach French. I was surprised by this proposal because I had no teaching background, but on further reflection I thought it might be an experience worth trying.
I was right to do so, because I quickly realized that this interaction of brain to brain, very different, was exciting. Having said that, I had already realized how enriching these intercultural exchanges of ideas were during the discussions I had, and still have, with my wife.
Another major advantage of “face-to-face” teaching is the fact that you can communicate with a real person, whereas the vast majority of people today, with their eyes permanently glued to their phones, are busy scrolling through nonsense. But hey, that’s called progress and I think it should be universal.
All the Diversity, all the Charm, all the Beauty of Life is made of Shadow and Light (Leo Tolstoy)
As I am used to walking with my nose in the air (paying attention to the motorbikes of the deliverymen who are the kings of the sidewalks), I could see how beautiful the city of Xiamen was, how clean it was and how it gave off a feeling of well-being and security; all these qualities that are cruelly lacking in many cities around the world today.
Of course, my grumpy old character is sometimes spurred on by certain traits of my hosts.
Whether it’s sneezing, renovating a home or business, or talking on the phone, it has to be done loudly so that everyone is aware of what’s going on. On the other hand, this has the advantage of drowning out the noise of (preferably large) car horns. As far as the administrative procedures are concerned, which are sometimes as complicated as in all administrations of the world, the lack of knowledge of the Chinese language is not an asset. But fortunately since the people of the community of Guanren “one world” are pleased to take me by the hand, these steps are no longer a problem.
To conclude, I would say that the outcome of my expatriate experience in China, in spite of these minor inconveniences, which have the advantage of spicing up my life a bit, is very positive.
Already, meeting someone else is very enriching because this person sees us and considers us as we appear, something we are unable to do, even in front of a mirror. And if this “other” has a different culture from ours, it’s all the better.
It is through the “other” that I can truly grasp my existence and access a true knowledge of myself. Not to mention the fact that all cultural progress is a function of a coalition between cultures; a coalition that is all the more fertile, as it is established between more diversified cultures.
Well, I’m going to stop here, because my neighbor decided to try out his brand new jackhammer tonight.