How Peach Blossoms convinced me to stay on Chinese TV



How Peach Blossoms convinced me to stay on Chinese TV

As a foreigner in China you always feel a bit like a celebrity or a pink unicorn. Constant stares, people pointing with the finger at you and screaming “foreigner” 老外. I have decided to counteract this phenomenon by putting me even more in the spotlight.

Since last week I have got the job to present a local TV news show every Saturday. I am their new special VIP presenter 嘉宾主持人. The show is a normal news format, reporting daily things here in Bozhou and its surrounding villages. Usually I don’t know the different reports they are showing. The job description is pretty simple: I come in on Saturday morning, get make-up and hair done, sit down in front of a camera with a TV and read off the screen.

TV host in ChinaHowever, it’s easier said than done. The lines running down on the screen are in Chinese! As I cannot see the text before we start recording on Saturday (because they write the text right before I arrive the same day), I need ages to get acquainted to the different new vocabulary (compared to the professional Chinese presenters!). It is really frustrating because it would be a 30 minutes job, but in my case it takes at least two hours to record my parts for the whole program.

Today was especially difficult. Maybe they went easy on me last time, because it was my first time. Last Saturday they were so kind to change a lot of words, and make it a lot more colloquial. Today, however, they didn’t bother to change a bit! The worst was that there were parts which were so long that I never managed to get through them without a tongue twist. In the end we had to cut the parts down, and record separately. It made me feel like a failure.

 

The thought of quitting before it actually started

I have to be honest. Yesterday I gave the TV director a call to tell him that I don’t want to continue being a TV presenter. After just one show, I have somewhat become famous in our little town. And as maybe some of you know, fame does come with a dark side.

 

Nikkon is the bestAfter the show has aired last week I have got a lot of positive responses, however, there were also quite a few negative ones. Mainly people were telling me or let’s say in a polite Chinese way asking me ‘how I had the courage to be on TV while my Chinese is so bad’ or ‘how amazing my self-confidence is, being so fat, and putting myself out there on TV’ or my favorite the straight approach ‘you shouldn’t be on TV, you are just a foreigner without perfect Mandarin Chinese and no previous TV experience’… But, the most hurtful reaction was to exclude me of specific gatherings and outings of so-called friends. That silent treatment and acknowledgement that I even exist really hit me hard.

Imagining that this was a reaction after just one episode, I got to think, what will be after a few months?

So I gave the TV director a call telling him I am too busy to do the show. He forcefully declined my declination and persuaded me, with the help of peach blossom flowers, to try it one more time this Saturday.

 

The power of Peach Blossoms

Chinese TV hostI love flowers. No matter the colour and shape. Flowers are the most beautiful thing on this earth and I am excited every spring to see the world waking up after a long cold winter.

Consequently, when the TV director told me that they were planning on taking me to Bozhou’s Peach Blossom Festival 桃花节 this Saturday, I had a hard time finding reasons to decline the job.

 

love taking picturesI have heard many stories of Bozhou’s Peach Blossom season, fields over fields with blooming trees. After the disappointment last Sunday, when my husband and I drove an hour by bike to the next village to find those magical peach blossom fields, I decided I will give the TV station another chance. Maybe they know where to find those flowery fields.

We met at 6am at the TV station, and to my surprise (and shock) there were two buses waiting. The guy on the phone sounded very casual about this ‘little recording’ of this ‘small festival’, so I though it will just maybe be him and one or two more people. In the end we started our trip to the magical peach blossom fields with a bus of 30 TV people, another huge bus with TV equipment, a small car as guide at the top and at the back.

taking pictures of flowersWhen we arrived at 8am the huge stage was already set up and people started crowding the place. At that moment I started to regret my choice. I couldn’t see a single flower, just a sea of heads with black hair. As the usual Chinese spontaneity goes, they wanted me to perform ‘a bit of’ Kungfu on stage. Being inappropriately dressed (and not in the mood to swing my legs in front of hundreds of village people) I declined, and got another task assigned: Presenting one act on stage. I could live with that.

The presenting on stage went smoothly and my years of kungfu performances in front of huge audiences paid off, helping me to stay calm in front of a sea of people staring at me with blank eyes. As a reward one of the presenters promised to take me to see the actual peach blossoms, and not just the Peach Blossom Festival.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t the only one who wanted to see the magical peach blossom fields. Crowds of people were making their way to the fields, but nothing could stop me, not even the camera team which decided to tack along and use this opportunity to produce more film material of the foreign girl who loves flowers.

 

I was mesmerised by the amount of flowers. I have never been to Japan for the sakura season, and flowers in Germany or the UK never grow in such masses in one place. Here, there were fields of peach trees in full bloom. Colours from vibrant pink to pastel rose building a contrast with the greyish white tree trunks. I took hundreds of photos, and hundreds of people took photos of me and with me.

 

Why I will try to go through with this TV job

selfies with chinese peopleEven though, I have gotten a few negative responses which have put me down, there is one huge positive aspect to this whole being on TV thing: People start calling me by my name, instead of ‘foreigner’ 老外! This might be an insignificant thing for most people but for me it’s huge. Calling me by my name finally gives me a feeling of belonging. People can put a face and a name to that ‘foreigner’ walking through their streets.

Yes, I am sure, there will be more haters, but that is what happens of you put yourself out there.

But I have promised myself to listen to my husband, family and friends, and trying to put less weight on what haters have to say.

Last but not least, here are a few impressions of the peach blossoms:

 

Have you ever been on Chinese TV? Do you think it is a good thing to put yourself out there (no matter if on TV, the internet via YouTube or a blog)?

The following two tabs change content below.
Anna Z. is a freelance illustrator and portrait artist in her late 20s, with a passion for Martial Arts and Chinese culture, and is the creator of Lost Panda, a blog to China and Art. Together with her husband, a Chinese national, she writes about daily life in rural China, focusing on cultural and social differences and the joys (and sometimes difficulties) as an intercultural couple. Apart from China related topics, she publishes her artwork, photography, art material reviews and tutorials to help more people discover their creative side. She is fluent in German, English and Mandarin Chinese.

10 thoughts on “How Peach Blossoms convinced me to stay on Chinese TV

  1. Good luck with the TV job! I can’t even imagine doing that. I’ve done a couple TV gigs here in Japan – but 90% of it has always been in English.

    Recently I started doing YouTube as well (I enjoy being able to control what I create) – which, of course, comes with its own downsides. I guess I eventually realized that the 90% who love you probably won’t tell you about it that often – but the 5% that hate you (no matter what you do) with be very vocal and say really cruel things. Most of those cruel things come from their own insecurities/jealousies/fears.

    I think you looked beautiful among all those flowers! Best of luck~!

    • Thank you Grace.
      I think you are right, and at the end of the day, we should always listen to the people we love. If they say we are doing a great job than it is usually true.
      I cannot control the news I am presenting and most of the time I don’t really think they are especially interesting, but sometimes opportunities come up like last week when they took me to the Peach Blossom Festival. I really love those :)

  2. I honestly don’t think I could be on Chinese Tv, I am too much of an introvert, but props to you! :)

    “But I have promised myself to listen to my husband, family and friends, and trying to put less weight on what haters have to say.”

    That’s the best thing to do. Also,I realize is that what people say about others is merely a reflection on themselves.

    • Hello Eileen,
      I know what you mean, usually I am also a very shy person… I hate standing in front of many people, but the thing with the TV is, I don’t really see anyone when I present. There is just a screen in front of me and one host who helps me and explains things to me. That’s it. I never watch the show in the end, ever. I guess if I would watch it I would get very self-conscious and start feeling embarrassed about all the mistakes I made haha

  3. Negative response is always the one which sticks out the most. The thing is, most people do bother to write good feedback so you might even have 99% who likes what you do but in the end it appears that only 60-70% appreciate it as the ones who do not like it always! write whats on their mind.

    Through this the negative feedback is something which is more present because it often hurts. THe best way to deal with this is to focus on the positive feedback and remember why you started this in the first place :)

    • Thank you! Sometimes with negative feedback all around you it can get very difficult. Why I started it in the first place? I needed the money lol I am not a big fan of presenting boring news reports (of which I just understand half). Sometimes other TV stations invite me and my husband together to do a documentary about something. Last time was about our life, and I got to try all kinds of great things. Next time we go to the Yellow Mountains and help with the tea leave harvest! Those things are a lot of fun! Unfortunately, they take A LOT of work and time, and are badly paid, if paid at all. But they are fun, so I will keep on doing them. Plus I think I can share them on my blog and more people can see some of the beautiful sides of China’s countryside :)

  4. Friends excluding you of gatherings just because you appeared on tv? Well, look at the good side… now you don’t need to waste your time with people that obviously are not your friends!

    I have never been on tv. Last week I was offered to be in a dating show (非诚勿扰), they didn’t care I already have a boyfriend because everything in the show is fake haha. I declined. Not interested!

    If you enjoy your tv job you should totally keep on doing it!

    • Mh yes I wouldn’t call them real friends anyway, more like acquaintances… It is hard to find friends here anyway. Most people just want to be your friend because I am a foreigner, or they want to practice their English… or lately because I am on TV -.-
      I know that dating show! It is very very fake lol I wouldn’t go on there either, no matter how much they pay. I had a few friends in Shanghai who went there. I think if you are single and love the TV it’s a fun thing to do, but neh not for me. The show I present now is normal news show, so everything is more or less real, and very serious. We even have a specific dress code, which brings other problems as I don’t have those clothes in my closet, and their clothes in the studio usually don’t fit! It’s a new hassle every weekend.

  5. I applaud you for being brave enough to be on TV speaking such a difficult language. :)
    There will always be haters. No need to pay attention to their commentary. Mostly likely they don’t even have half the courage you do to go on TV and try speaking in English instead.
    I’m sure you have way more supporters on your side in comparison to the negative feedback. Keep doing your thing! :D

    • Thank you ! It is not as difficult as everyone things. I am just sitting infront of a screen reading Chinese words xD I don’t see any people, and I never watch myself when it is shown on TV in the evening…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

CommentLuv badge
30Followers
Followers
613Comments
27Subscribers
%d bloggers like this: