Passionate about China, 62-year-old American 'Xicheng Dama' becomes online hit

Source:People's Daily Online Published: 2017/8/28 11:58:58


He loves Beijing's "Hutong" (alleyway) culture and has lived in Beijing for 22 years. Photo:People's Daily Online

Crossman is a 62-year-old American man who describes himself as a“real Beijing gentleman” Photo:People's Daily Online

"I've got a bunch of Renminribao (People's Daily) people interviewing me," said Terry Crossman, with a smile on his face via WeChat to his friend. "Next week I've got CCTV, Zhejiang TV, and even BBC lined up."

Crossman is a 62-year-old American man who describes himself as a "real Beijing gentleman" after having lived in China's capital for over 22 years. He became an online celebrity after a video of him applying to become a "Xicheng Dama" went viral.

 "Xicheng Dama" refers to a group of volunteers who roam Xicheng District in central Beijing acting as public security volunteers. Some 70 percent of them are females aged 58 to 65.

"'Dama' means auntie, because most of the volunteers are female. I call myself a 'Xicheng Daye,' which means an uncle doing volunteer work in Xicheng District," Crossman said in fluent Mandarin with a Beijing dialect as he laughed out loud. He can also speak fluent Cantonese, because he had worked in Hong Kong for 12 years as a headhunter before coming to Beijing.

Now he teaches English and Chinese for free to those interested in cultural immersion. Without a job in Beijing, Crossman has been staying on a student visa, which will expire on September 8.

"I've received offers from companies, but I haven't signed a contract yet," said Crossman. "It's too bad there isn't a special visa for retirees. We'll see if I can stay in Beijing."

He said his fame as a foreign "Xicheng Dama" is only temporary and will eventually fade. As for his love for Beijing and Chinese culture, "never," he said.

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