Shenzhen Government Online
Expats share their stories with local audiences
From: Shenzhen Daily
Updated: 2021-10-18 09:10

Four expat speakers from different countries and professions shared their stories of studying, working and living in Shenzhen at a speech event held at the Shenzhen Book City CBD Store in Futian District on Saturday.

American anthropologist Mary Ann O’Donnell, who has been in Shenzhen for 26 years, talked about her experience of conducting a public art project known as “Handshake 302,” which was initiated in September 2013 from Baishizhou in Nanshan District, as well as other projects to help people rediscover their communities, including the “Urban Flesh and Bones” project that organized participants to create art while walking around the city.

“We found that people do not walk often in their daily life,” said O’Donnell, explaining why she started the project. “People who drive are familiar with parking lots, and people who take the Metro know about the Metro stations very well. But even for those who have been in Shenzhen for 10 years, they may not know how lovely the city’s sidewalks and neighborhoods could be.”

Ronny Verdoodt, from Belgium, is the founder of local charity group A Heart for China (AHFC). By telling stories about why he set up the AHFC and what the organization has been through over the past years, Verdoodt said that Shenzhen is a rich city but has people who also need help, and that charity is a simple act of kindness.

“A philanthropist is actually someone who donates their time, their money, their skills, their expertise and their talent to make this a better world,” said Verdoodt. “So, basically everyone here can be a philanthropist.”

Kim Moon-cheol from South Korea, a graduate student studying Chinese language education at Shenzhen University, delivered a speech titled “Shenzhen — a turning point of my life.” Kim said that he was going through an unpleasant time before he came to Shenzhen and living here lifted him out of his predicament.

“The people in Shenzhen are very friendly, tolerant and kind to foreigners like me,” said Kim. “I could open up to them, so I made up my mind to start a new life here.”

Viktoriya Sinitsyna from Russia called herself a hard-working person like many other Shenzheners. After receiving her master’s degree from Jilin University in 2015, Sinitsyna has been working in foreign trade. In her eyes, Shenzhen is a city that provides great potential for people doing foreign trade businesses.

“Many factories in Guangdong have set up offices or branches in Shenzhen, so it’s very convenient for people to conduct international trade here,” said Sinitsyna, adding that the international flights here also make it easy to receive clients traveling from other countries.

The event, hosted by the Shenzhen Foundation for International Exchange and Cooperation and the Shenzhen International Communication Association, is the first of the “Go! Shenzhen” series, which aims to help expats know more about the city.