Video blogger bridges cultures

By Judy Zhu in New York | China Daily USA | Updated: 2017-10-12 10:33

Video blogger bridges cultures

Jessica Beinecke, whose Weibo livestream from New York in Mandarin has many Chinese fans. JUDY ZHU / CHINA DAILY

Jessica Beinecke walks the streets of Manhattan, saying ni hao to thousands of people while livestreaming on Weibo.

"Hey guys! Good morning and good evening no matter where you are! Today, let me show you how to order a flat white (a less-foamy cappuccino)," Beinecke said in her energetic voice.

The blonde thirtyish lady speaks fluent Mandarin and holds up a selfie stick as she interacts with thousands of Chinese fans on screen.

Known in China as Bai Jie, Beinecke became an online celebrity thanks to her series of instructional English slang videos for Chinese millennials and later expanded her repertoire with Crazy Fresh Chinese for Mandarin learners. She has had a live broadcast for a year.

She posts her one- to three-minute videos on Weibo, where she has more than 400,000 followers. For each episode, she shifts through American lingo, introducing expressions and explaining their meanings in Chinese in her signature peppy, comical style.

Her content, which she usually films on her smartphone, has been viewed more than 100 million times this year.

For the Ohio University journalism graduate and Middlebury College graduate degree holder, it began with her journey to study in China in 2007.

"China feels like a second home to me for the friends that I made from the very first teachers to inspire me to learn Chinese and to the first roommates that I had in Beijing and Hangzhou," she said.

"When I started my business I wanted to create content that will help young Chinese people understand what it is like to live in America, be that friend who helps them realize their dream of learning conversational English and learning cultures outside of China."

Last year, Beinecke was invited to conduct a 30-minute speech in Chinese at Alibaba's first global philanthropy conference, to advocate for the deeper development of a culture of private philanthropy in China.

In 2015, Beinecke was named to Foreign Policy's Pacific Power Index as one of the 50 people shaping the future of the US-China relationship, "for taking American culture and language viral on the Chinese web. ... Beinecke has harnessed the power of social media to teach English - and Chinese - to countless eager language-learners."

Sitting at her apartment in midtown Manhattan, coincidentally across the street from a Chinese bubble tea shop, Beinecke talked about her ties to China.

"Behind me are paintings that I purchased when I was in Beijing. They are hutong doors. Every day it reminds me of my zhong guo jia ren (Chinese families)," she said.

"Just the fact that a girl from a small town in Ohio can have any kind of impact on the world's top two economies still blows my mind.

"I believe that people-to-people exchange will always be one of the top factors impacting the US-China relationship," Beinecke said.

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