'Energy and ambition' attract young Americans
Updated: 2011-08-22 08:40
By He Wei (China Daily)
SHANGHAI - China has captivated the imagination of Hunter Levan for as long as he can remember.
Levan, 29, came to China in 2009, but the US citizen has been interested in the country since his childhood, when he was a fan of kungfu movies and started to practice martial arts.
Driven by a desire to learn Chinese, Levan quit his job as a government clerk in Washington and moved to Suzhou in East China to spend a year studying the language.
"I realized if I ever wanted to learn Chinese, I would have to move here and 'do as the Romans do'," he said.
After overcoming the language barrier, Levan turned his attention to finding a practical use for his new skill.
"I sent out e-mails and resumes in Chinese, and got feedback in less than five days," said Levan, who now works as a consultant for Spring Airlines in Shanghai.
Unlike Levan, Alison Watts, 28, knew little about China before coming to the country.
"But all my friends who have been here said it was incredibly fantastic, so I decided to take the big step forward," she said.
Watts' experiences of journalism in New York helped her land her current job, in which she hosts a show for an English-language television channel in Shanghai.
"Living and working here is like an adventure, where amazing opportunities keep popping up," she said.
"Some of the emerging sectors such as advertising, media, architecture, public relations, etc, are quickly gaining momentum," said Watts. The "energy and ambition" in China is like "the pioneering spirit in a bygone age of the United States", she added.
Levan echoed this sentiment, saying that it was very "exciting" to work in China's rapidly growing aviation sector.
Compared with these newcomers, Ted Hornbein, a US businessman, has a deeper understanding of how things have changed in China.
When he first celebrated US Independence Day in China in the early 1990s, he was one of a handful of people invited to the party at the US embassy in Beijing.
But this year, as a board member of the American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai, he and his colleagues organized an Independence Day celebration for around 2,000 guests.
"Today you have local and Western restaurants and your whole family here with you for the important holiday. I have seen a 180-degree shift from my first July 4 party in China," Hornbein said.
According to Watts, China-related news coverage in the US has surged only in the past two years. "I think that indicates how much attention the US has attached to this relationship."
Levan said that one thing he has learned in China is that you should never use one standard and apply it everywhere.
"We should learn more and understand more about each other," Levan said.
And that is why he smiled after learning that US Vice-President Joe Biden had tipped in a restaurant in Beijing during his current visit to the country.
"If you live in China, you'd know we don't do tipping here."
US Vice-President Joe Biden visits China August 17-22.
Li Xing, China Daily's assistant editor-in-chief and veteran columnist, died of a cerebral hemorrhage on Aug 7 in Washington DC, US.
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