When Frenchman Adriano Lucchese came to Shenzhen 18-months ago, he barely found any information about living in the city.
Although he started learning Chinese right after he arrived, he still found it difficult for expat newcomers to adjust to life in a totally new language environment. This prompted him to compile Shenzhen guidebooks for expats.
"During my Chinese classes at Shenzhen University, I met with Yolanda Favreau, former president of Shekou Women International Club (SWIC) who has profound experience in shopping in Shenzhen," Lucchese said. "She gave me the addresses of about 300 best places to shop and encouraged me to write a shopping guidebook, I thought that would be a good start."
As Lucchese gradually met more people and learned more about the city, he felt he should combine the advice people gave him to benefit the expat community.
With two books -- "Shopping in Shenzhen" and "Living in Shenzhen" -- to be rolled out next month in Shenzhen and Hong Kong, Lucchese attributed the success in producing the city's first two guide books for expats to community work.
"I'm fortunate to have met a lot of kind-hearted people who were ready to help," Lucchese said. "It's been a coordinated work among the expat community. The books are a result of hundreds of interviews and a collection of thousands of suggestions coming from all sorts of people with different professions, nationalities and backgrounds."
Once when Lucchese was taking photos and drawing a shop location map at the New Whitehorse Cloth Wholesale Market in Dongmen, two young Chinese women came up to stop him on suspicion of spying. "After I explained my project, they became very supportive,"Lucchese said.
In order to cover all aspects of life in Shenzhen, including opening a company, finding a lawyer, opening a bank account, finding a property, studying Chinese, what to do on weekends, education, arts and health, Lucchese invited more than 30 people from different fields to help with the project by writing articles, translating documents and conducting interviews.
Earlier this month, Lucchese decided to incorporate his company: Lonely Writers. "I chose this name because I think that represents us writers. We are somehow lonely and wish for a better world, trying to express our creativity," Lucchese said. "However, when we get together, we really create something that is much more than we could achieve one by one, alone. It's a kind of synergy."
Leading the company's first project, Lucchese, is to some extent trying out a business concept. "Since I don't know how much I'm going to earn by selling the books, it is difficult to tell the writers how much I will pay them," Lucchese said. "I therefore decided to pay a fixed price for their work and by the hours of work. I also have many friends, both Chinese and expats, who worked for free, just to be part of the adventure."
Having worked in the IT industry in Asia for seven years before he moved to Shenzhen to finish his MBA, Lucchese said he was greatly fascinated by the Chinese culture. He said he hoped to find more talent to work with him and write more books about the culture of both Shenzhen and China.
(Shenzhen Daily March 25, 2008)