My name is Daniel Esteban Perdomo Rincón and I was born in Bogotá, Colombia 27 years ago. I am currently an English teacher in a high school in Huizhou, China, and I have been in this country for about four years now.
我叫 Daniel Esteban Perdomo Rincón，今年 27 岁，来自哥伦比亚波哥大。我在中国已经呆了四年，目前在中国惠州一所高中当英语老师。
My city in Colombia offered a degree in English studies, but I chose teaching and set a goal for myself to learn English very well in order to be able to teach others. I have always liked the pedagogy part, sharing knowledge with someone else to help them improve. So during my studies in Colombia, I came to China in 2018 to do an internship in a school, and then I went back immediately for graduation. Back in Colombia, I worked for two months in a private school, but that was the extent of my experience in education there. China gave me the opportunity again in 2019 to develop myself as a teacher.
我在波哥大获得了英语研究学位，但我选择了教育。我为自己定了一个小目标，要把英语学到出神入化，才能教别人。我一直很喜欢教育学，传授知识，提升素质。2018 年，我在哥伦比亚学习期间，来到中国，在一所学校实习，但由于即将毕业，我必须马上回国。回到哥伦比亚后，我在一所私立学校工作了两个月，积累了一些教学经验。2019 年，中国给了我第二次机会，让我成为一名老师，提升自己。
I had always dreamed of doing an international internship, and I heard that some friends had volunteered in Brazil for two months, and that it counted as a degree option. Then, with my desire to travel, I learned through a company that there were many options to go abroad to countries such as India, Turkey, Russia, Brazil…and on the list was China. Chinese culture had always fascinated me, with its long history of dynasties, its culture so different from that of Colombia. For example, Colombia may be different from Brazil, but since we are all Latinos, the essence is similar. But I was curious about China, all the way on the other side of the world.
I wanted to get to know and explore that culture and that different language. At no time was I afraid; I had a classmate who had a bad experience in China, but that didn’t scare me. I did wonder how I was going to take care of myself without knowing Chinese, but at the same time, that motivated me and pushed me, so it was a great decision.
I am very grateful to a Colombian who was here and gave me detailed directions when I first arrived in China. I landed in Hong Kong and I knew exactly which bus I had to take, and how to get to the city of Huizhou.
After that, I was rather shy. What I would do was write Chinese characters on a piece of paper to show people, or take lots of pictures and print out the names of places to ask for directions.
After my internship in China, I returned to Colombia. I liked it very much and I left very happy. I made my graduation presentation about my experience in China, and the professors loved it. Then, when I was about to graduate, my first boss wrote me to invite me to come back to Huizhou. They provided me with a visa and tickets, and I said yes without thinking. I graduated, and two days later I was back in China with my first job.
I love China’s temples, and all those ancient cities and villages. The first time I came here, my big goal was to visit the Great Wall of China. I went to see the Terracotta Army in Xi’an. In Guangzhou I went to see the pandas, which was my big goal. I love the colors of the temples and the colorful animal statues. I also went to Zhangjiajie near Shanghai, and although there were a lot of people and it was cloudy, I enjoyed it just the same. I also went to Yunnan, to Shangri-La and the Tiger Leaping Gorge hike. I really, really loved it! I really like natural places, hiking, and parks, and China has a lot of very beautiful places like that. But my favorites are the ancient villages like Dali and Shangri-La.
As a Latino, I have noticed cultural differences in social relationships. Latinos are very affectionate and expressive. Friends hug each other and smile a lot. I realized that in China there is not that much physical contact. My Chinese friends often tell me that I say “thank you” too much. They tell me that here there is no need to express gratitude so much, and they wonder why I am always so happy and smiling. You realize that people here are more introverted.
As for Chinese food, I am faithful to the most basic food: dumplings, noodles, and fried rice “chaofan.” I love hot-pot. I don’t usually eat other dishes. Maybe I tried them and didn’t like them, I don’t know. But I love dumplings and noodles, although they tell me it’s a bit like fast-food in China. I found some Colombian restaurants in other cities, so when I miss the ingredients and seasonings of my country, I like to visit them.
I think we can all divide our lives into pre- and post-pandemic. For me, life in China before the pandemic was very different. I was able to travel to so many other countries like Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam. South Korea, the Philippines, Laos, and Japan were on my list of countries to visit. But since the pandemic began, getting around has not been as convenient. In any case, I felt safe here during the pandemic and I felt that I shouldn’t leave. So I think I will stay maybe one or two more years in China to grow professionally as a teacher, and to reach a conversational level of Chinese and be able to take care of myself.
I have encountered very kind people in China who have tried to help me even without knowing English. I have also found people who avoid me or are a bit rude to me. But I feel that this is the case everywhere. I’m not saying it’s something that happens only in China. As a Latino, when I first arrived, they asked me why I was black, and I didn’t understand. I explained to them that my skin color makes me who I am, that I am Latino and I love my skin color.
I felt rejected at first, but I realized that it is not about me. In China, they tend to generalize everything. It may be without bad intentions, but they include all foreigners in a group. At first I did feel bad, but it helped me to feel proud of who I am, my skin color, and even my hair. My students used to make fun of my wavy hair and say I had a bird’s nest on my head. Eventually I learned that my wavy hair makes me who I am and I love it.
I would encourage anyone in Colombia who has the chance to come to China, because it can dispel many stereotypes. For example, that false myth that everyone eats dog meat. To come here is to learn not to get carried away by everything you hear, to learn for yourself. Whether you are from Asia, Europe, or America, we all have stereotypes about the unknown, so I would encourage people to come and enjoy the ancient culture of China and get to know what the people here are really like.