A welcome in the hillsides: How Wales captured my heart
- Studied in Cardiff
- Beijing, China
When I moved to Cardiff to study my master’s in 2011, I couldn’t have realised that it was the beginning of a profound and lifelong connection. In this international port city full of energy, I met so many people who had come there from around the globe and built friendships with them. The most significant encounter, however, was with someone a little more local. My future husband, who had just journeyed up the M4 from Port Talbot, was my classmate. He has deepened my understanding and broadened my view of this green land, and I now think of Wales as my second home.
"When I moved to Cardiff to study my master’s in 2011, I couldn’t have realised that it was the beginning of a profound and lifelong connection."
I’ve always found a “welcome in the hillsides” as Welsh people are very open and friendly to incomers, while still being passionate about their culture. I’ve spent a lot of time in South Wales with my husband’s family, his neighbours, the old and the young, getting to know the country’s history and language, and getting an insight into the nation’s unique identity. At the same time, I have also helped to introduce them to Chinese culture beyond prawn crackers from the takeaway. Some have pick up some of the language, while virtually all of our family in Wales now have at least one or two Chinese decorations in their home.
"I’ve always found a “welcome in the hillsides” as Welsh people are very open and friendly to incomers, while still being passionate about their culture."
My own hometown in China, the city of Shijiazhuang, is known for its heavy industry, which makes me feel particularly at home beneath the smokestacks of Port Talbot steelworks. Not to mention that both regions have a strong history of coal mining. However, the future for Wales — and the future of my hometown — lies beyond the heavy industry which sustained us for so long.
After moving back to Beijing, I kept thinking about what I can make of this connection. We have a Welsh community here, and the Chinese alumni of Welsh universities still feel quite affectionate toward Wales. With this base, how can we raise Wales’ profile? As a media and PR professional at one of China’s private biggest media organizations, I feel I can make a contribution and link the resources.
"After moving back to Beijing, I kept thinking about what I can make of this connection. We have a Welsh community here, and the Chinese alumni of Welsh universities still feel quite affectionate toward Wales."
For me, tourism is definitely one of the most interesting and ripe areas for building interesting. Wales’ beautiful landscape, coastline, and castles should be known by more people here. Education exchange programmes and cultural & sports events (BBC Cardiff Singer of the World, Rugby, for example) are areas with a great deal of untapped potential. My hope for the next few years is that I can pursue these areas and help to build a bridge between the two countries.
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