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Cross-Cultural Love: A Touching Success Story巴黎小伙和中国女子的饭馆情缘

Editor’s note: This article was translated and edited from wenxuecity.com and explores the love story of a young French university student and a girl from Wanzai County in the Jiangxi countryside. The story looks at how they met and eventually got married, and touches on some of their initial cultural difficulties and future plans.


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2013-2-19 10:43

As the modern world becomes more and more interspersed and connected, it is commonplace to see couples of mixed nationality wherever you go. In many places in China, it isn’t hard to spot a foreign guy walking down the street holding the hand of a Chinese girl, or vice versa. The marriage of a foreign university student to a rural Chinese girl isn’t something you’d come across too often however. A touching story recently occurred when a French college student fell in love with and later married a Chinese girl from the Jiangxi countryside, with the pair currently planning on settling down in Paris.

Bus station sighting

On January 28, a young Frenchman named Yann was heading to the bus station in Jiangxi’s Wanzai County. Close by his side was a young Chinese woman holding his hand, a scene which attracted the attention of many nearby locals. “This is my husband, he’s from Paris, France. I’m seeing him off to the airport today as he’s heading home for the holiday,” said Zhong Sumei with a thick Jiangxi accent.  

Sumei went on to tell the reporter, “I’m from Sanxing village in Wanzai County and we’ve been married for a month.” Showing her lively, open personality, she then continued to chat away happily with the reporter. By her side, Yann stood still listening carefully, occasionally letting out a shy smile.  

Zhong Sumei told the reporter that Yann, or Zhong Gaoyan as he is known in Chinese, can totally understand the language, though has a little trouble speaking it smoothly. This was evident when the reporter began talking to Yann, who simply said, “I love her, no matter how far apart we are.” After a few minutes, Yann got on the bus and waved goodbye to his wife on the platform below, in a scene which for a recently married young couple, must have been tough. After the bus pulled away from the station, Sumei began telling the reporter about how she met Yann and how they soon fell in love.

Love at first sight – in a restaurant

Two years ago, a 22 year old Sumei left home and headed for the big city to open a restaurant near a university in Nanchang. At the beginning of last year, she was working a shift when in came a tall, handsome-looking foreigner wanting to eat some fried rice noodles. After finishing, the foreigner, in broken Chinese, told Sumei that the food tasted great, and soon became a frequent customer at the joint. Soon after the two became familiar with each other, Yann plucked up the courage to ask Sumei about her family and revealed his intention to marry a Chinese woman. At the time, Sumei didn’t quite understand what Yann really meant, and simply began conversing with him naturally.     

Yann went on to tell her that he was from Paris, and that his father was an electrical engineer and his mother was a civil servant, and that he was taking part in a language exchange programme at a university in Nanchang. After a few months, Yann told Sumei that he was set to leave China after finishing his studies, and hoped that they could become “friends”. After knowing Yann for half a year, Sumei had grown a liking Yann’s honest and polite nature.  

Cultural concerns

After taking what Yann said into consideration, Sumei told Yann of her concern regarding their background differences. Sumei, who had never been to university, came from a modest family of farmers and had no understanding of French or knowledge of Western cultural habits. Despite hearing this, Yann insisted that they give it a try, and eventually had an online video conversation with Yann’s parents back in France, who immediately showed a liking for Sumei.

Yann eventually headed home in September last year, and began working in a computer software company in Paris. Despite being far apart from each other, they frequently kept in touch via the internet and phone calls. In December, Yann came back to China, and proposed to Sumei. After registering their marriage, a small wedding ceremony was held in Sumei’s home village of Sanxing.

Spice eating competition

When reminiscing about the days after the wedding, Sumei told the reporter that a few days before the New Year she took Yann to her village, with many of the villagers curiously trying to get a look. At the time, Yann wasn’t fazed by the staring, and tried his best to communicate and make friends with the locals.   

Sumei said that the people of Wanzai County are known for their love of spicy food, though her family knew Europeans weren’t too keen, so told her family to prepare some sweet dishes for Yann. Yann had other ideas however, and insisted on becoming a true Chinese son in-law by trying the local spice-infused cuisine. Yann showed his commitment by eating the spicy food despite sweating profusely, and after a half a month of being in Sanxing even began challenging Sumei’s family and friends to spice eating contests.

“Although his family are pretty well off, he doesn’t show any signs of being spoilt,” said Sumei, “this gives me great confidence and comfort when I’m around him.” Sumei also added that Yann doesn’t drink or smoke, and often helped out around the house during their 20-day “honeymoon” in Sanxing.

Future plans

Upon being asked what their future plans were, Sumei told the reporter that she was trying hard to study French, and that after Chinese New Year, they were going to settle down in Paris. When faced with making the jump from living in a small village to a modern international city, Sumei knows that as long as Yann is by her side she’ll have nothing to worry about.
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