Breaking barriers, finding success through China-South African ties

By Wang Mingjie in Pretoria | | Updated: 2017-04-27 22:54

When Kemogotsitse Bosielo embarked on his journey to China in 2013, he never expected that his experience would lead him back to his homeland working for a Chinese company.

Born in the small city of Rustenburg in the North West Province of South Africa, Bosielo took a giant leap of faith to pursue his Masters in International Relations and study Chinese in Beijing.

"Three years in China, I had not only achieved everything I set out to achieve in China, but my expectations had been far exceeded," Bosielo said, who now works as an account manager for Huawei Technologies in the Johannesburg office.

As a political science graduate with a deep interest in the dynamics of international relations, the 29-year-old South African said the decision to go to China seemed straightforward as a result of the country's economic ties with China, which has been South Africa's largest trade partner for eight consecutive years.

Hailing the China-South Africa People to People Exchange Mechanism, which took place in Pretoria this week, Bosielo said he is a solid example of how strengthening the bilateral relations between South Africa and China can have a tremendous impact on the lives of individuals from both countries.

Thanks to the collaboration between the Department of Higher Education and Training in South Africa and its Chinese counterpart, he was awarded a scholarship at Tsinghua University, one of the best universities in China, which lead to him securing a job at one of the biggest international information and communication technology companies.

"None of this would be possible without the excellent foundations set by Sino-South Africa cooperation," he said, noting that growing up and getting an education in South Africa means his world view has an unavoidable Anglo-Saxon influence.

Bosielo said, however, living in China presented a sweeping departure from that perspective because it forced him to break away from his typical way of life.

Quoting Baba Dioum's famous remark, "In the end, we will conserve only what we love; we will love only what we understand and we will understand only what we are taught," he said the best way to learn, is through experiences.

"I remember how intriguing it was for me to see a businessman in a suit riding his bicycle down the street," he said. "I also found the occupation and use of public space fascinating as almost every night in Beijing, elderly Chinese will gather in parks and courtyards to dance the night away, which seemed to be a unique mix of ballroom dancing with some Chinese flavor."

That type of experience compelled him to open up to a radically different way of living. "You have to get used to the fact very few people speak English, and handle the obstacles that that challenge presents. I got lost countless times in my first few months in Beijing and it also took me quite some time to get used to the taste of baijiu (a strong Chinese spirit)," he added.

Bosielo confessed all of that made him think of the world in a much more nuanced fashion, push his boundaries of tolerance and acceptance, and eager to explore further and learn more about different cultures across the world.

During the China-South Africa People to People Exchange Mechanism this week, he was invited as a representative of South Africa to recount his personal experience in China.

While speaking at the event, he said Sino-South Africa relations are so pivotal because both countries have a shared interest in the reform of global governance and solving the problems developing countries face.

"The mechanism is an excellent platform for Sino-South Africa cooperation which we, as youth, should take full advantage of to propel us towards this future we all dream of," he said.

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