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  Chinese Way>Life

Expats steeped in China

2013-08-09 15:20:05

(Shanghai Daily)


Alex Lindahal (left) from America performs traditional Chinese tea drinking ceremony while psychotherapist Malcolm Hunt from Australia looks on at a cultural class in Shanghai. An increasing number of foreigners are drawn to China not only to learn Chinese but also to steep themselves in Chinese philosophy, arts and culture.(Shanghai Daily)

An Australian psychotherapist practicing in Shanghai incorporates Buddhist and Taoist concepts, as well as Eastern mindfulness training. A Russian graduate student in international commerce sings Peking Opera and Huangmei Opera. An American college student studies language and calligraphy for the summer.

They are among the increasing number of people drawn to China not only to learn Chinese but also to steep themselves in Chinese philosophy, arts and culture. They come for personal development.

Psychotherapist Malcolm Hunt from Australia has lived in China for eight years, including five years at a temple near Tianmu Mountain in Zaoxi Town, Zhejiang Province. With more than 20 years in mental health field, today he counsels expatriates in Shanghai, many of whom are under stress over relocation, a new culture, personal relationships and old problems they thought they had left behind.

In his view, more and more people are coming to China to experience Eastern culture. “Twenty years ago, many visitors came to see the scenery and sights, 10 years ago they came to do business, and more are coming to experience the culture,” he tells Shanghai Daily in an interview.

He occasionally gives talks at the Shanghai Institute of Language and Culture.

A Buddhist since 1986, Hunt says he was greatly influenced by a Buddhist master when he first came to China and was distressed over the failure of a personal relationship.

“I personally experienced the mindfulness approach to be one that was freeing as well as logical. I have further refined my own practice of mindfulness and meditation for the past five years in a temple in Zhejiang,” says Hunt, who took vows.

“When I was in Australia, my mother and father were interested in Chinese art and opera,” Hunt says. Though my mother could not speak Chinese, she would take me to see Chinese opera whenever it was staged. In my teens I was drawn to Taoism and poetry in translation.”

Hunt says Chinese culture can best be understood not as a single culture but as cultures within a culture. “Each region has its particular signature yet there are behaviors and ways of doing things that can be described as very Chinese.”

He is drawn by China’s thousands of years of history and contributions to world literature, as well as the “strong sense of community and belonging,” which is palpable in Chinese society. “The more I have absorbed Chinese culture into my blood stream, the more I have felt part of society, as it is the Chinese nature to welcome you into their family of friendships,” he adds.

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