The following interview is from The Chinalyst “Best China Blog Awards” and provides an introduction to my motivations behind writing The China Observer Blog:
Q: What was your main motivating force for beginning your own blog?
I had two goals in mind when I started writing The China Observer blog:
1. Educate Others: Every time I visited the US, I found that many people I interacted with did not understand much about China beyond its rapid economic growth. I wanted to do something about this so I started writing The China Observer blog to educate and offer readers a source of comprehensive information about the business world in China.
2. Personal: I write my blog to pursue new interests and as an outlet for writing and creativity. While I have always enjoyed writing, I have found few opportunities to do so since handing in my last college essay. I have a passion for learning new things. The China Observer blog is a great way for me to explore different areas of the Chinese marketplace beyond the scope of my everyday work life.
Q: What is your blog mainly about? Please tell us a little bit about the general topics you usually discuss in your blog.
The China Observer blog documents observations about what I see in China either with my own eyes, on other China blogs, or in the Chinese mediaï¿½ As these are observations of what I encounter in everyday life, the blog explores a diverse range of industries, companies, and business topics. Because I am particularly fascinated by social media and the transforming Chinese consumer many posts are focused on these two themes. While I have a section on my blog that highlights select news stories, this is not a news blog. The majority of the posts remain just as relevant now as they were the day I first published them.
Q: Did you experience any special or out of the ordinary events or interactions as a result of writing a blog?
Nothing out of the ordinary has happened. The best part of writing my blog is meeting other individuals who share my passion for China. Whether itï¿½s a Skype chat or an in person meet-up I really enjoy every opportunity I have to interact with blog readers and other blog writers. Especially blog writers; the best way to learn is through others, I think one reason why The China Observer blog has developed so well in such a short period of time is because along the way I continually consult with others who have been doing this much longer than myself and I am very thankful for their insights and support.
Q: Do you have any favorite blogs about China you would like to recommend?
I recommend a few of my favorites listed in the ï¿½aboutï¿½ section of my blog. I start and end everyday by going through a combination of blogs on The China Observer blogroll and others as well as the China Alltop list. Each week I post ï¿½Key Observationsï¿½ summarizing several posts in the China blogosphere that I found particularly interesting for my readers. Every blogger has a different spin on life in China. Most are worth reading. It just comes down to how much time you have to spare.
Q: How did you first make the decision to arrive in China?
I first came out here for pleasure with limited knowledge about China and left with a desire to make sense of everything I encountered over that two-week span. The backbone of understanding any culture is knowing the language. After studying Spanish for 7 years I switched to Mandarin Chinese. I went on to study and do research in China and eventually began my career here.
Q: What do you think about life in China, the Chinese people and Chinese culture? How would you generally describe your experience in China?
I love living in China. I get a kick out of the rough bus ride to work to wake up instead of drinking morning coffee. I think it’s amazing that you can talk to three different generations of Chinese people who have each lived in such completely different Chinas. No matter how much of a 9-5 routine (or as most companies in China 9 to ï¿½) something always happens in your everyday life that catches you off guard. Perhaps not always in a good way, maybe an experience makes you real angry or frustrated at the time but in retrospect it’s another story to tell and another memory to reflect on.
Q: What advice would you give someone considering coming to work, study or live in China?
China is not for everyone. I meet people all the time who come to China and can’t take the spitting, pushing, pollution and other inconveniences and leave after a few months. After all, China is still a developing country and when coming to a developing country you need to come ready for an adventure. You need to be prepared to deal with a lot of annoyances, but also prepared to learn from the diverse experiences that you will encounter.
Part of the premise of The China Observer blog is that things in China are changing so quickly that it is unreasonable to call someone a ‘China expert’. That being said, there are people who possess a wealth of China experience and can offer tremendous insight into all aspects of life in China. The best way to gain as much understanding as possible is to meet with as many of these ï¿½inside observersï¿½ as possible. Each one will give you a new outlook on what things are like out here and help you form your own idea of what China is to you.