Hello! My name is Holly Ann, I am from England in the United Kingdom (UK). Today, I am going to talk to you about my home away from home in Zengcheng, Guangzhou. In 2015, I met a guy in Manchester, who was moving to China four weeks later. I was fascinated by this. I had travelled to Hong Kong before, but I had never been to the mainland. Fast forward a few years and we have both been living here together in Guangzhou for four years, this is our fifth year in China.
What I love about my home in China is the kindness of the people. As a foreigner with limited Chinese, people are patient with me and make efforts to understand me. I have made so many good friends during my time living here who are keen to show me around and have adventures. My local friend even said I can use her family name, which is ‘张’, so my Chinese name is 张荷莉 (荷莉 sounds like my English name ‘Holly’). We call each other 姐姐 (big sister) and 妹妹 (little sister). That is another thing I love about China, how friends become family.
I have also been lucky enough to spend Chinese New Year with a local family here in Guangzhou and to learn about their local traditions. We made dumplings, folded and burned the lucky money, and played with fireworks and firecrackers. We also celebrated by cooking and eating together, I have learned that food is a very important part of the culture here. I love that fruit is given and gratefully received as a gift here. I also enjoy trying different local foods. One of my friends in Guangzhou has been giving me a food tour of the traditional places which has been a real treat. Her father is a chef, so they know some of the best restaurants in the city. Since living here I have also learned about some traditional crafts and arts in Guangzhou, including calligraphy, olive stone carving and ink painting. Though a local community group called Global Friendship, I have been able to make connections with local people and foreigners and participate in cultural activities. They believe in community and helping others and through them I have been able to join in with local charity work, specifically with children living in the mountains in Qingyuan.
我有幸与广州当地的一个家庭一起过春节，了解当地传统。我们包饺子、叠压岁钱、放烟花爆竹。我们还一起下厨、吃团圆饭，美食是当地文化中非常重要的部分。人们会赠送水果作为礼物，也会欣然接受，我喜欢这样的习俗。我还喜欢品尝当地各种美食，广州的一个朋友一直带我探访老店，这真是一种享受。她的父亲是一名厨师，所以知道这座城市哪些餐馆最好吃。住在这里，我还感受到广州的一些传统工艺和艺术，包括书法、橄榄石雕刻和水墨画。我加入了一个名为 “全球友谊” 的当地社群，与当地人和外国人建立联系，参与各种文化活动。他们信任社区，乐于助人，引荐我参加当地的慈善工作，帮助生活在清远山区的儿童。
I was also a bridesmaid or ‘sister’ for a work friend who got married last year. This was an amazing experience as I was able to learn about a traditional，Cantonese wedding. I felt very privileged to see two families coming together and witness the love between them. I enjoyed watching the tea ceremony and felt very emotional when the bride was given away by her family. There were some parallels with western weddings, but also some very different traditions. It was fantastic to see the beautiful clothes and jewelry, they were also an important part of the day. As bridesmaids, we had two dress changes and the bride had at least three.
I have also explored our local area and experienced beautiful scenery on an unimaginable scale. I love walking and hiking and feel lucky to have so many beauty spots on our doorstep. In one of the attached photographs, I am at a waterfall in Zengcheng. The power of the water was phenomenal and we felt close to nature as we were surrounded by trees and flowers. One of the best things about living near Zengcheng is that it is famous for lychees. At this time of year, they are growing everywhere and they smell and taste so delicious.
I work as an EAL (English as an additional language) teacher and this has been a valuable experience for me. I feel that through my job and chatting to my students, I get a deeper insight into daily life, culture and traditions. I enjoy eating in the school canteen with them and learning more about their opinions on food. They often berate me for not eating meat, but they approve of me eating tofu as it is healthy. Even though they are quite young (in grade 1), they have very strong ideas about how to stay healthy and believe in looking after their bodies and exercising regularly. I think that this is something which should be mirrored in the UK as there are concerns over health and childhood obesity.
I am from the midlands in the UK, but I lived in Manchester for 12 years before I travelled to China. Manchester is an amazing, global city and it prepared me well for living and working abroad. Being away from home is difficult and I miss my family and friends, but I am well supported here and the experiences I have had have shaped me as a person. The more I travel and the more people I meet, I have learned to celebrate the similarities and the differences. I notice that in the media there are lots of negative news reports about China. I think that this is worrying as it creates stereotypes and prejudice. I would urge people to be open-minded and if you have an opportunity to speak to and learn from people from a different culture, grab it with both hands as it will be an enriching experience which will broaden your mind and help you to think more globally.
我来自英国中部地区，来中国之前，在曼彻斯特生活了 12 年。曼彻斯特是一个繁华的国际都市，它为我提供一切条件，让我有能力在国外生活和工作。海外游子非常艰难，我时常想念家人朋友，但这里有许多人关爱我，各种经历也成就了我。走得越多，遇到的人就越多，我已经学会求同存异。媒体上有许多关于中国的负面新闻，这令我忧心，因为这些报道造成了对中国的刻板印象和偏见。我希望人们保持开放的心态，如果你有机会与来自不同文化的人交流和学习，请好好把握，因为这将是一个丰富的经历，将拓宽你的思想，帮助你以全球视野考虑问题。