John teaches basketball at the Show1 Basketball Academy in Beijing. [Photo/Qianlong]
“Three, two, one, go! Make the move!” John shouted at the children in front of him, “Good, very good, continue!” The children ranging from six to 12 years old was dribbling skillfully basketballs in two rows. Running with the ball, spinning, dodging, pushing up, they attentively followed all movements of John. Sometimes they fell down but then got up, and sometimes they laughed aloud with John’s funny gestures.
This was one of the lessons of John at the Show1 Basketball Academy in Beijing.
John comes from Alaska, the coldest state of the United States. He ardently likes playing basketball from childhood and he has been dreaming it to be his occupation. Once by chance, he got the invitation to be a coach at the Show1 Basketball Academy, and he decided to come to Beijing.
John didn’t know Chinese at all so he had to rely on translators to communicate with students. “Sometimes there is no time to translate as playing basketball is very quick, fortunately body language helps,” said John.
Quite shortly, he found Chinese children are shier than their American counterparts, so he tried to make his classes more interesting by making faces or joking or funny gestures... gradually, students became more active and their skill was improving. Even the child at the age of just six was able to run with the ball.
John was once confident in dealing with the differences between Chinese and American cultures for he attended the course of Asian Studies in the United States. However, he still often encountered “embarrassment” during his first days.
Once, he was invited to have dinner with his Chinese friends, one friend poured a small cup of liquor for him. “I drank it bottom up, but out of my expectation, he immediately poured me another cup and after I bottomed it up again still another. I was burning in my chest at last, had no idea when the gathering ended up. I was confused at the time, because in the US, we drank liquor bottom up but it was never followed at once another cup, we sometimes drank the next one after quite a while for talking. Sometime, there is no the next one. Later I learned that it is a custom in China to show hospitality.”
It has been three and a half years in a flash since John came to Beijing and now he speaks simple Chinese and he gives his pet dog a Chinese name “Xiaobao”. “I usually speak English to it but sometimes I also speak simple Chinese like ‘Niyaochima’ and ‘Kuaizou’ to it. It can understand both and now it is a ‘bilingual’ dog,” John said jokingly.
As his time in Beijing goes on, John is increasingly leading a “mixed” life. Besides his language “mixed” dog, his wedding ceremony in 2016 was a particular proof.
John and his wife are both from the United States, but they met and got married in Beijing. They spent a long time deciding whether to have a western or Chinese style wedding ceremony as both of two are obsessed with traditional Chinese culture. On the verge of the date, the couple agreed to hold a unique “mixed” wedding ceremony.
At the ceremony, the bride wore a white wedding dress, groomsmen and bridesmaids stood by sides and friends and families sat in the audience, all of whom were in a completely western styled dress. However, after the ceremony ended, the bride put on a cheongsam and proposed a toast with the groom to the guests at every table. “In a western-style wedding, the groom and bride don’t propose a toast to the guests at every table, but we hope to do this in China,” John said.
Now John and his wife are expecting their own baby and John hopes their baby can stay and learn fluent Chinese in China.
Photo shows Mr. and Mrs. John and their pet dog “Xiaobao”. [Photo/Qianlong]
John and his wife hold a Chinese and western style wedding ceremony in Beijing in 2016. [Photo/Qianlong]
John (L1, front row) takes a group photo with other foreign coaches at the Show1 Basketball Academy in Beijing. [Photo/Qianlong]
John (L) and his student pose for photos at the Show1 Basketball Academy in Beijing. [Photo/Qianlong]