TIC, This Is China

by Tove Vine
16 May 2014

Buying a train ticket in China without speaking Chinese is one of many challenges Tove Vine experiences. The urgent need for English teachers in China provides her with an opportunity to move to Guangzhou and to completely change her life. In “TIC – This is China”, she takes the reader along on her journey - first observing and then increasingly interacting and actively exploring everyday life in today’s China.   Despite China having become a major political and economic world power – it still seems a mystery to many. There are Chinatowns and Chinese restaurants in most of the western world where one can get a taste of China. However, direct cultural exchange, individual travel and exploration are hampered by the language barrier. Tove Vine brings Guangzhou and many of her encounters with its inhabitants to live in the reader’s mind, her daily work and life and how to cope. She has to get used to almost constantly being the centre of attention. The people of Guangzhou are not used to see foreigners and always keen to practise their English with her. In stark contrast: less than 200 kilometres from Guangzhou, she visits a small fishing village that is full of foreign workers, but hardly known to her friends in the city and difficult to travel to. The reserved attitude of Chinese authorities to Western culture is not dominating Tove Vine’s experiences, but certainly present. For example a growing expat community is forced to split into smaller sections and she is not allowed to talk about the religious aspects of Christmas to her young students. Motivated by her students’ progress, Tove Vine masters her new life with thorough preparation, determination, enthusiasm and creativity. Importantly, she keeps an open mind and heart which allows her to simply get to know China and its people. Tove Vine lets the reader benefit and learn from her experiences, and inspires to follow her example.

 

Diana Mittag

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