SERIES: Pengyous of Beijing

Tsinghua University courtyard
“I used to do internal communications for a bigtime corporation. It was mindless. I couldn’t take it after two years. I picked up that job for my parents. They wanted me to have a stable job, have a comfortable income, a secure path to raising a family – it’s pretty much what all Chinese parents want for their kids.
I’m originally from Hunan, but I’ve been based in Beijing since college. You have to work at a big name, hotshot company to get an official Beijing Hukou, (it’s like a residence permit). It helps with the basics: healthcare, affordable rent, schooling. I got one now, so my parents aren’t pressing me too much anymore, and I can do more of what I want to do now.
I don’t know what I want… but I do know what I don’t want.”


Tsinghua University School of Journalism and Mass Communications
Tsinghua University School of Journalism and Mass Communications
“I’m staying after class today to work on an article for tomorrow. Writing in English is definitely not easy, but writing something is better than nothing.”

Chuan (串) restaurant outside the gates of Tsinghua
Chuan (串) restaurant outside the gates of Tsinghua
“I don’t ever want to go back to live in France. The place is going crazy. It really is going to implode one day.”
“Of all the places to go to, why did you come to China?”
“I’m in China now because I used to be a professional Ping-Pong player. I used to come to China a lot — if you don’t believe me just look up my name online; you’ll see me pictures all over. I played for the professional team of France. When I was competing, I met a lot of Chinese athletes. Sometimes I’d fly over to China for competitions, sometimes they flew over to France, or sometimes we’d meet somewhere else in the world. Over the years I picked up Chinese from them.
Then back in 2007, I was training for the Olympic Games when my back stopped working; I couldn’t move at all. The doctor told me that my spine was misaligned. Surgery was too risky…there goes my life. From eight years old to that very last day, just about every single day, I played ping-pong for eight hours straight. What’s the use now? I finished my educational career early. I didn’t pick up anything outside Ping-Pong. Language is the only thing I’ve got going for me now.”

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