Embracing the way of the Chinese
Steven Weathers, a television personality in China, shares his motivations for making the big move from the US and his colorful experiences with cultural and language differences.
Steven Weathers first came to China in 1999 when he was part of a tour group from the United States that took him to Beijing and Xi'an, Shaanxi province.
One of the moments he still fondly remembers is wandering around Xi'an's Giant Wild Goose Pagoda square and interacting with a group of school children who were intrigued at the rare sight of a Caucasian.
"I was probably the first foreigner many children saw there. They were flying kites, and our tour group talked and laughed with them," said the South Carolina native. "We were all really happy even though we couldn't speak each other's languages."
Impressed with his special connection with the Chinese, a fellow traveler in the tour group joked that Weathers would one day be speaking Mandarin as a television host in China. At the time, the 26-year-old simply laughed it off. After all, he already had his own marketing and advertising company in the US.
But little did he know that those words would eventually come true. Eighteen years after that fateful trip, Weathers is now a television star and cross-cultural business consultant in China.
In 2003, after reading stories about the big plans for the upcoming 2008 Beijing Olympics and the Shanghai World Expo in 2010, Weathers determined it was the perfect time to move to China to embark on a new career.
"I can still remember that very moment when I was sitting in my office chair. I always found myself reading everything I could about China. I knew if I could learn Mandarin, it would open up new doors and opportunities, and that was when I decided to make the move," he said.
"I also wanted to help fellow Americans understand China's development more accurately. Most Americans knew nothing about China at that time and that unfamiliarity was an important factor in me deciding to come to this country."
It took about three years for Weathers to make that big move, and he eventually decided to go to Luoyang, Henan province, where he began working as an English teacher in 2005. He said the decision to start his journey in Luoyang was because the city used to be the east capital of the Tang Dynasty (618-907). He also knew he could learn Mandarin faster in a smaller city than in China's metropolises, where many Chinese speak English.