How a writer gives voice to China’s ethnic minorities by translating their stories
China calling: In the late 70s, I had an intense desire to think, live and dream in Chinese, and to experience Mao Zedong’s revolution in person. But as the United States still hadn’t recognised communist China, in 1978, I packed my bags and headed instead for Taipei, to further my Mandarin studies. Eventually, I wound up in opportunity-rich Hong Kong, where I learned Cantonese, married locally and raised our daughter.
My first job was working in a UN-hosted camp for Vietnamese refugees, preparing them for culture shock when they would be resettled in a big-hearted country called America, whose GIs had decimated theirs. I moved on to work for a trade magazine publisher, where I got lucky when my boss chose me to research and launch half-a-dozen Chinese-language B2B magazines for the mainland.