Daring to take flight
Updated: 2013-07-16 11:24
By He Na (China Daily)
Bendza shows up in a TV series in traditional Chinese costume.
"When my mother heard me speaking Chinese on the phone she was surprised," he says.
"She even took me to see a psychiatrist. But I told her that I had made my decision no matter whether she agreed or not."
Then Bendza opened a video rental store without telling his parents and saved $1,000 to help fund his move.
"In the 1980s, $1,000 was really a lot of money. When I presented the money to my parents I could see the surprise on their faces," he says. "After they had confirmed the money wasn't stolen they both sighed with relief."
But they were still not convinced. What finally swayed them was a phone call from Wang.
"I begged Wang to make the call," says Bendza. "Wang told my parents how serious I was and asked them to give me a chance."
Bendza's parents were both government officials and had hoped he would follow in their footsteps. However, they accepted his plans, while also betting with their son that he would soon return.
It was 1983 when Bendza moved to China, at just 14 years old. There were no direct flights so he was forced to travel through several countries on a long arduous journey.
"It was a really long and complicated journey for a child, but luckily I wasn't abducted by traffickers," he says.
Bendza's uncle worked at the Gabon embassy in Beijing and picked him up at the airport.
"He was puzzled that I kept looking left and right, my eyes searching for something," says Bendza. "I was looking for people who could fly."
His uncle laughed when he said this and explained that it was movie technicians who made people fly.