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'A Tie Transcending Discrepancies' -- Americans in China

Jenny Leal recently dyed her brown hair black. The 31-year-old Beijing-dwelling American seems to be making herself more Chinese after marrying a Chinese man earlier this year.

Leal arrived in Beijing on Sept. 9, 2001, holding a master's degree in journalism and hoping to learn as much as possible about the "mysterious China". Her experiences of the Asian country started two days later with the "9.11" terrorist attack.

As a just-arrived teacher at the Beijing Institute of Graphic Communication in a southern suburb of Beijing, Leal received many words of sympathy and sorrow from her new Chinese students and friends for the tragic attack on her countrymen, leading her to glimpse Chinese people's warm-heartedness and love for a peaceful life.

Meanwhile, Leal was also struck when hearing that some Chinese blamed the United States' arrogance in international affairs for the attack and believed America deserved to be treated this way.

"It is natural for a country to encounter opposition to some extent," said Leal, currently working in a Beijing-based media.

Leal said the ups and downs in the China-US relations have not affected her life in China very much and she doesn't have much to do with politics.

The most rewarding part of Leal's experiences in China is finding her Mr. Right, a native of south China's Fujian Province. In fact, the marital bond has closely linked Leal with the once "mysterious China" and "unpredictable Chinese culture".

"Wherever we end up living, I will be bound to China for the rest of my life," she said.

When Professor Michael Prosser, an expert in American and European culture, came to China two years ago to teach at the Beijing Language and Culture University, his understanding of the country was no different from that of an American tourist.

Now, the scholar has become an established China expert and frequently invited guest speaker on English programs aired by China Central Television and China Radio International.

"Mysterious Chinese culture and the currently fast-developing Chinese society constitute the inspirational source of my study," said Prosser, who claimed to be a "Chinese-made American expert".

The professor said if he did not come to China, he would have missed the opportunity of witnessing China's economic development and the fast-changing Chinese society.

Still excited by the APEC meeting held in Shanghai in 2001, Prosser said it was stimulating to see leaders of China, the United States and Russia gathered together shortly after the "9.11" terrorist attack.

"I hope the China-US relations will continue to develop in a pleasant direction and my expectation of the trend is very high," said the scholar.

Jim Gradoville has been living in China for five years and is now father of two little Chinese girls.

As Motorola Vice President of Asia Pacific Government Relations, Trade and Standards, Gradoville said the most favorable part of his life in China lies in the challenges and changes characterizing the fast-developing country.

When Gradoville first came to China in the early 1980s, he was quite impressed with the Chinese people who uniformly dressed in the depressing colors of black, blue and gray and were easily shocked by the "novelty" of a Polaroid Camera.

At present, Gradoville is in a suitable position to witness the country’s drastic changes while working for the largest foreign investor in China and serving on the Board of Governors of the American Chamber of Commerce in Beijing and the Executive Board of the E-Commerce in China Forum in Beijing.

As an expert in government relations, Gradoville actually considers one of his real interests to be "serving the Chinese orphans".

In 1998, after going through complex application procedures, which Gradoville called "paper pregnancy", the American man adopted a Chinese girl Windy from a orphanage in east China's Jiangxi Province, who was abandoned by her birth parents and spent the first year of her life in the orphanage.

At present, in a picture hanging in Gradoville's office, the five-year-old Windy is beaming all the time at her American father, demonstrating her striking beauty and happiness.

"Windy is so clever that she even helped me pick out my second daughter Vallen," said the father proudly.

In addition to his responsibilities with Motorola, Gradoville also serves on the board of the Half The Sky Foundation, a US-based non-profit organization dedicated to the education and nurturing of children in Chinese orphanages as well as building a tie between the two countries to provide love to more Chinese orphans.

"The tie transcends any discrepancies between the two countries," said Gradoville.
(Xinhua News Agency December 9, 2003)

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