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Popularity 10Viewed 3976 times 2015-4-9 06:01 |System category:News| understand, Chinese, capital, course, little

When I first heard the name of the city I now call 'home', I couldn't pronounce it. Of course I didn't understand Pinyin pronunciation at that time as I do now. I knew little about it. However, after more than three and a half years, I've come to know this city quite well. I planned to stay here for a year and then go back to America. However, I fell in love with this wonderful city and have no immediate plans to leave here. I'm honored to be able to tell you about it.

Zhengzhou is the capital city of Henan Province, a central province with more than 90 million people. It is located in what I call East Central China. China dates its beginnings back 5,000 years. No more than 300 meters from home lies the Jinshui River. On this very river, archaeologists found the remains of the Longshan Culture which dates back to 3,000 B.C.E. 

Many people call Henan the 'Cradle of Chinese Civilization.' Zhengzhou, being far in the interior of China, is not well known by the outside world. In fact, in a metropolitan area of around 13 million people, there are less than 6,000 foreigners who call Zhengzhou their home. It is common for me that people stare at me everywhere I go. As in Shanghai, Beijing, Shenzhen or Guangzhou, it is impossible for a foreigner to ever dream of blending in here. You are a spectacle everywhere you are. I've often told newcomer foreigners, "If you don't like to be stared out, you're in the wrong city."

The two main attractions, both known worldwide, here in Zhengzhou are the Shaolin Temple and the Yellow River. In the mid-1960s, David Carradine, a well known American actor, starred in a popular television series called 'Kung Fu.' It was a story about a Chinese man who traveled the U.S. and reflected the virtues and skills of this martial art. Segments of the show reflected back to Carradine's character (known as 'Caine') and his childhood as he was raised by the monks of Shaolin. I've traveled to 26 countries in my life and have yet to find a person who didn't know about kung fu and Shaolin Temple.

As mentioned above, the Yellow River runs just north of the city of Zhengzhou. It is the second longest river in China and one of the longest rivers in the world. I first read about the Yellow River as a child in primary school in America. It is world famous.

Zhengzhou is also home to a lot of industry. Foxconn, the Taiwanese company that makes many Apple products such as the iPhone and iPad, has a huge facility not far from my home in the south central part of Zhengzhou on Songshan Road. Shortly after coming here in 2011, I took on 3 executives of Yutong Companies, which boasts of being the largest bus maker in the world, as my English students. Yutong has also become very famous for its advancing technologies in building hybrid (electric and petrol powered) buses. Not only that, Yutong is also famous fro building heavy construction equipment.

During my first days here in 2011, I couldn't help but notice the beauty of this city. The south campus (old campus) of Zhengzhou University was very near my home. I eventually taught hundreds of classes there. The campus streets are lined with 13-17 meter tall poplar trees. Indeed a beautiful site giving the campus that certain feel of any institution of higher learning that I've visited many places throughout the world.

I've lived here long enough to realize that people are the same no matter where you go in the world. There are always a vast majority of wonderful people together with some who aren't. I've been lucky enough to meet some amazing people here. (I've also encountered a very few of the others as well.) I connected with an English Corner that meets every Sunday morning at Binhe Park and Zhengzhou University near my home. (I've actually lived in three different apartments, but all were on or close to Longhai Road). I've met people at the English Corner who have become my Chinese family. Amazing, wonderful people. Great students of English committed to bettering themselves through learning. We have people who come them every week that are as old as 78 years and as young as toddlers. I donate my time and teaching of English there. ZZTV and HNTV have filmed documentaries of my life and China and my work at this English Corner.

If you like to shop, Zhengzhou offers the famous Erqi Plaza district in the city center. The Erqi Memorial stands at the center of this area and is a beautiful reminder of those who fought and stood up for the people and their rights in fair employment. This area is always abuzz with a lot of people and activity. Zhengzhou also is home to two Wanda Shopping Malls. I'm lucky enough to live halfway between both of them. They feature nearly all of the national chain department stores, amazing restaurants serving many of China's diverse cuisine as well as Western establishments like Starbucks Coffee, Burger King, MacDonalds and WalMart.

Zhengzhou is (in my opinion) a place that represents the true culture and nature of China. The museums, parks, shopping and beautiful environment makes this a great place to visit (if you're nearby or travel through here) and a wonderful place to live. I've been given numerous opportunities to live in such places like Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou. I choose to stay in Zhengzhou because, for this American, it has become my Chinese home. 

(Opinions of the writer in this blog don't represent those of China Daily.)




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Michael is the author of the transformational book, Powerful Attitudes. He is a professional educator, an educational consultant, an author. He lives in Zhengzhou, Henan Province. He enjoys playing guitar and writing poetry. He loves China.


Recent comments

  • Amazing Chinese Student 2018-6-16 15:05

    Great story.

  • Can Chinese Education Change? 2018-5-16 10:53

    I think foreigners are advanced on writing (working)style that we could see if we compare the dictionary of English and Chinese with each other! Chinese scientists and teachers must tell stories in plain words to children and leave more free space for the latter to do logical thinking all by themselves. That is the direction of Chinese education-reform. We must first realize our disadvantages on schooling and then do some operations for changing and improvement!  Never copy foreign things on appearance!
    For more, please check my recent writings on education!

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