“I am from China, from one big Chinese city with the population of eight million. While I was in China I didn’t know anything about Estonia, I had heard very little about it. All three Baltic States were mixed up in my mind; I knew that they are located near Russian Federation and are former Soviet Union countries.
I was a very active person as a student in China and I didn’t like when there were too much control over the society. I participated in Beijing demonstration, but unfortunately freedom never came to China and also the Soviet Union collapsed. At university western philosophy was very popular. I came to Estonia in 1994, I was working as a Translator (I was studying Russian language at university) in a Chinese company. I came to Estonia because here there’s economic freedom and many possibilities for personal development.
Estonia is a very good country. Estonian people are peaceful. During the 22 years that I’ve lived here I never had any serious conflict. Local people talk to me in English, however language plays very important role. It wasn’t possible to understand what is going on in the society and in politics if you don’t understand Estonian language. I was searching for different possibilities of learning, I took the language course but it wasn’t enough. I think that reading is the best way to learn a language. I visited libraries and borrowed big English-Estonian dictionaries. After a while I started to understand the grammar too, how to build the sentences, that knowledge helped me a lot. Then I started watching TV. When you don’t know the language, TV is not just entertainment, it is the way of learning.
I also took a bookkeeping course in Estonian language and I had to pass an exam, that wasn’t possible to pass without understanding of Estonian language. Then I met one person who has a Gymnasium for adults and I decided to join. The Director of the Gymnasium couldn’t believe that a person with higher education is willing to go back to school. So I studied one year and finished 12th grade in Estonian. I was looking for free language learning possibility and I found it.
My wife is Estonian, we met at Concordia University, where we were both students. I always tell our children that they are Estonians, they live here. They talk to their mother in Estonian. They know Chinese only a little, as they don’t use it and there is no motivation to learn it. As I work a lot, there is no time for me to talk to them in Chinese nor to teach them. However, we went to China together, they were exploring the culture and visiting relatives, so the connection with China still exists.”