As of late I have written some rather negative stories about the ways Chinese and African peoples interact. I would like to switch gears.
Earlier today, I had the pleasure of reading an email from a Chinese friend of mine, who was a former student when I was an English teacher in China. We have been discussing possible future educational paths to the United States or Canada. During one of our discussions, I told him that, with his excellent English (which I had almost no hand in, as his language skills were the result of a combination of great teachers, caring parents, and his own motivation) he may try his hand at translating. He found the idea irresponsibly optimistic because, as a high-school student, what person would pay him to translate? I countered that there were a lot of Chinese firms operating in Africa who were desperate for translators who were not afraid of living on the continent. I also said that the experience would look great on a college application to the United States or Canada, for he would probably be the most distinctive Chinese applicant. Today, I learned that he found a part-time job that may have him go to Africa as a translator if his supervisor wants to do business on the continent. I could not be prouder. I do not know how many young, talented, and open-minded Chinese there are who would contemplate a similar move, but I wish all of them the best of luck. These are the sorts of people who, I believe, will create a better future for Sino-African relations.