During the week I had the pleasure to speak to a group of great students at Nanjing’s University of Finance and Economics.
Whilst there I met one bright young fellow, a Mr. Chen – English name Bill, who asked me the following favor, “Could you write an editorial column about the language and cultural barriers you must overcome as a Chinese journalist in an English speaking country.”
So with this in mind – I thought it best actually to ask for the help of one of my Chinese colleagues here, who himself spent time at a US newspaper, Mr. Zhao, referred to here as Frank.
Now regarding the first question which concerned the language barriers needed to be overcome as a Chinese journalist in an English speaking country for Frank this wasn’t so much an issue as he had already had years of studying English, at an undergrad and later as a post grad. What he did mention was that he began to pay more attention to the subtleties of the language and nuance, the finer meaning often lost by intermediate language learners.
In terms of the cultural barriers one may encounter Frank remembered two incidents that stood out. The first was when he covered a story about a group of animal rights protestors who in this case were women and took off their clothes and put themselves in a cage. (What a great story I thought!)
Second was during Independence Day when many co-workers clad themselves in the national flag which Frank mentioned was less common or acceptable here.
The lessons he learnt from his experience was to be a proactive journalist and constantly strive to do the best job possible. This meant doing the preparation in the lead up to a story, making sure you covered every issue thoroughly, and more importantly try to cover the story from a unique perspective that made you stand out and shine from the competition.
Of note one of the positive memories he kept from his time working on a US paper was the many interviews he conducted, over 100, and the treatment and reception he received from the majority of people he spoke to. Overwhelmingly he said that American’s were open and compliant to being questioned and did not hold any prejudice towards him as a Chinese journalist.
So Bill I hope this is enough to get you thinking. As we have seen, Mr. Zhao spoke favorably of his time in the US working as a journalist and in retrospect I would also conclude that my experience here working at the China Daily website has been equally rewarding.
I think at the end of the day it is up to the individual.
How well you engage with other workers, how hard you try to create opportunities and how positive you are towards life in general – these are the key ingredients that define a person’s experience while working abroad.
For a worker or student, it helps to see and believe in the best of life and I think this will bring you eventual success in most places. So stay committed Bill and all those out there and keep striving towards your goals!