Saturday, June 11, 2016

Happy Birthday, ChinaDaily!

China's #1 English language paper was 'born' 35 years ago, today. At that time I was a young mother, living in Germany. I had thought my path in life had already been decided, for better or worse. I had no idea of China Daily's existence, and it knew nothing of me. Fate would bring us together.

When CD was 27 – an age in humans that I consider optimal, I had the privilege of visiting China for the first time. I didn't want to because all I knew of China was what I had heard or read in western media, and not much of it, if anything, was good. By the time that birthday of CD's rolled around, I was living in America, a divorced mother of 2. My ideas and prejudices were formed by my environment and I never realized how my perceptions had been shaped until I stepped foot in this country.

The devastating earthquake in Sichuan province happened just before I visited China for the first time, in May, 2008. ChinaDaily had been recommended to me by the academic group I would be traveling with. In the weeks before arriving in China, I gingerly picked through articles, trying to find redeeming qualities in a country I was determined to not like. With ChinaDaily's reporting, I was introduced to a side of China no one ever intimated to. Before even stepping foot on Chinese soil, ChinaDaily caused me to wonder if everything I had read and heard about China until now could be credited.

What impressed me most was China Daily's coverage of the Sichuan Earthquake of 2008. China Daily took a sensitive look at the devastating loss and of the boy who risked his life, saving his classmates. This excellent news outlet didn't stop at the immediate vicinity of the quake: CD went on to report on the effects of the quake as far away as Xi'an, where people were so fearful that they would die in their sleep, crushed by their building crumbling from an aftershock, that they slept on the sidewalks, outside their apartments.

That 2008 visit changed my life! After a too-short, 3-week stay, I resolved to connect with China in the most fundamental way possible: live here. Of course, it took some doing to divorce myself from life as I knew while preparing to embark on a new direction. The 2 years I spent preparing for this journey, I spent in the company of China Daily: reading every article, ingesting the Culture and Lifestyle sections especially. Later, I discovered the Language Tips section. It helped greatly in my learning of this timeless tongue. The Travel section fueled my dreams of wandering all over the country.

It wasn't until March, 2014 that China Daily and I established our formal relationship. It came about so: One of my former students, now studying in Australia, asked me via QQ chat to look up something. I automatically went to China Daily homepage, and there found an ad for a blogging contest.

A blogging contest? I'm a blogger! I've been blogging in the west since the outset of my China adventure! Unfortunately, everyone else blogs in the west too, it seems, and one lone blog about a middle-aged woman in China just doesn't seem to make a splash. People in the west – like me, as I once was, just don't find any appeal in China. After all; that's why I didn't like China or want to come here. To this day, after 6 years of writing and over five hundred articles posted on my (western) Vagabond Blog, I have virtually no following.

Of course, it could be simply because I'm not an engaging writer, too. But then...

China Daily's blogging community; instantly I became a welcome member. Unlike my western blog, where nary a comment appears, here, every one of my articles garners at least a handful of comments. And I get to participate! Oh, the friends I've made in this blogging community! Writing with China Daily has been one of my greatest pleasures; truly an outlet for this heretofore frustrated author. I've even won awards!

Now, six years into my China adventure and entering my second year as a ChinaDaily blogger, I continue to get my news first from this source. Thank you, ChinaDaily!

Happy Birthday!

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