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An invitation letter from China

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By Watson Saskia Chan'el | | Updated: Feb 08, 2022

[South Africa] Watson Saskia Chan'el, Shenzhen University

Watson Saskia Chan'el in Guangzhou [Photo provided to]

Dear young Saskia Chan'el,

Hi! I know you're busy preparing for the college entrance exams in South Africa right now, but I really want to write and talk to you as you’ll be flying to China in the near future!

I want to tell you that in a few months you will embark on your first long journey alone, flying 12,000 kilometers to China, your future home. I want to tell you that when you set foot on the land of China, your life will be bound up with the nation and changed forever.

Watson Saskia Chan'el [Photo provided to]

You will find a country with a very different culture from your own country, listen to a harmonious and pleasant language that you don't understand at all, try a lot of food with perfect combination of color, taste and appearance that' you don’t always like, and appreciate the charm of a seaside city with long summers.

You will come to a city known as "come and then you become a native of Shenzhen," where you will study, live and make friends with students from all over the world! You will listen to the sound of cicadas to spend endless hot summer days. You will sit around with friends to eat barbecue or spicy hot foods, and enjoy happy nights in KTV singing. Before you know it, you'll find yourself immersed in the city and falling in love with the land and its kind, warm and friendly people.

You may go to a city called Chengdu, where you'll experience the boisterous sounds of Kuanzhaixiang (Broad and Narrow Alley), the bustling traffic of Chunxi Road, and the exuberant atmosphere of bring lights at nights.

While sipping green tea, you will taste Three Cannon (sticky rice cake, local food that makes the sound of cannon during the production process) and Juntun Pancake (local food made of flour), and marvel at the mystery of the changing faces of Sichuan opera. You will ascend to the golden summit of Mount Emei and be rewarded with the magnificent and heaven-like view in the clouds. The glowing ray of sunrise in the morning will galmorize the entire sky into a majestic landscape painting.

When you finally leave, you will find that you enjoy the peace and leisure in the dense fragrance of cover bowl tea. Chengdu, a city in Sichuan, noted as a land of abundance, captures your heart and soul with its prosperity, beauty, leisure and idle life style.

The campus of Shenzhen University [Photo provided to]

You may also visit a city called Guangzhou, where you'll learn to haggle with vendors in clothing markets and taste typical Cantonese morning tea (local breakfast). When you first taste the chicken feet that are cooked to be so delicious, your surprised look makes friends laugh with a glee. When you take a night cruise on the Pearl River, you will be amazed at the light show with the image of fishes projected on the "slim waist" (nickname of the Canton Tower, a narrow and tall building). The fishes seem to swim around you shuttle, and the Canton Tower is like a guardian angel of the ocean to stand tall in front of you.

Your best Chinese friends may take you on a tour to Huizhou, her hometown. You'll see a historic city with such a deep cultural heritage. It's amazing to observe that the local business miracle was made by young artists. When you see the various cultural creative projects of local enterprises, the innovative and refreshing atmosphere will make you wonder how art and commerce can be so skillfully blended. You will be amazed at how history and modernity can have such perfect fusion. You'll also harbor natural love for the people of Huizhou and even wonder if you'll be able to do your part for Huizhou in the future.

The campus of Shenzhen University [Photo provided to]

Dear young Saskia Chan'el, I want you to know that you will have many adventures in your life, but studying in China will be a fresh and unique experience that you will never forget! I want to tell you how much you will enjoy learning Chinese language and culture in the future. "A journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step", please accept the invitation from China so as to tell Chinese legendary stories well to the South African people!

The story is from "My Beautiful Encounter with China" Essay Competition organized by the Chinese Service Center for Scholarly Exchanges (CSCSE).