When students and professionals go to China, their objective is to familiarize themselves with the cultural and regional differences so that the culture shock is reduced to a minimum. However, there are so many surprises in store that it is hard to prepare one to the varieties of places and situations that can arise during one’s China visit. Therefore it will not come as a surprise if at some point one walks into a neighborhood which may seem as though a part of Africa has been transported to China.
Thriving African Community in China
It is said that travelling teaches more than books. This is a primary reason why study abroad programs and gap year programs have been so hugely successful and popular across the globe. While these programs have been prevalent in all the other parts of Asia and Europe for a very long time now, China has been on the study abroad map for only about two decades. While volunteering programs had started after the mid-nineties, the country allowed fully fledged study abroad programs only in the past decade. Now you can participate in Chinese language programs or take up gap year jobs as volunteers in many parts of the country.
It is known that China has had a history of thousands of years and most of it is relatively unknown. Therefore, whenever you go on China tours, during the course of your stay in the country you will encounter incalculable wonders and strangest of places. However, one of the biggest surprises in the country is not because of its history but because of its present.
In southern China, lying in Guangzhou Province is an area where you would hear pop music from Africa. Visitors in the area will suddenly stumble upon a community which they will hardly expect to be thriving in China. This is an area where an African community from various African nations has settled down and allowed business worth billions of dollars to thrive. These nationals trade in various commodities but the primary items are apparels.
This community is not here for a short time. Its inception started way back in 1979 when African student merchants saw an opportunity of doing business. What started then picked up pace in 1990s and today has resulted in the settling of at least two thousand African nationals who are living in the Xiao Bei Road area. The influx of the community has grown since the Beijing Olympics 2008. This was a great opportunity for people from all countries in the world to visit the Dragon country, and as a result business saw tremendous growth. Now there are a lot of traders from the Middle East as well who have seen the opportunity and hence have come and settled here.
The question is what makes the community tick? How come they have been here and felt so much at home? The answer does not only lie in the thriving business. The weather is also a vital factor. The province experiences warm weather which the African people find similar to that of their home country. Therefore, despite the change of location, there is not a lot of change of the ‘homely’ feeling.
The citizens have now become an integral part of China. They have made their mark in business and other spheres, and in 2006 an African national won a karaoke contest in the city and became a pop sensation of the city. His victory allowed him to welcome a group of expats whose surprise knew no bounds during the ceremony.