Viral cultural exchange

By Furkan Erdogan Source:Global Times Published: 2016-5-8 18:38:01

Creator says popular online videos aimed at showing Turkey China’s good side, and giving advice to its bad

The term wanghong, which literally means "Internet favorites," has become widespread among the young generation.

Today, it is possible to see many different types of wanghong in Chinese social media; some are popularized just for fame and many others for financial benefits.

But there are also a few foreigner examples in China that became popular in their home countries or in China through their videos.

An African student made a video mocking Wuhan taxi drivers' accent, and a German student who married a Shanghainese woman recorded a video imitating Shanghai wives and fathers- and mothers-in-law. Similar videos have gone viral among foreign students in China.

Among the wanghong popular in foreigners' home countries is Can Akkilinc from Turkey, a 24-year-old Chinese-language student at Shanghai University of Finance and Economics.

Can Akkilinc

Akkilinc has lived in Shanghai for more than three years, and has strived to integrate with different levels of local society.

He shares these experiences on Instagram aimed at followers in Turkey who would not otherwise get to know with real life in China.

GT: Why did you move to Shanghai?

CA: When I was in high school in Turkey, almost all my classmates wanted to study English literature. I wanted to study something different; I didn't want to be an English teacher after I graduate. Then I chose Chinese. Two years later, I came to China to continue my studies. The Chinese language is so difficult, and you can't learn it very well outside China.

GT: What were you expecting before coming here?

CA: Before arriving, I searched on the Internet and TV. I didn't think too much about air pollution. And I was expecting almost all Chinese people can do kung fu.

GT: How was it interacting with locals?

CA: They are kind and helpful; also, hospitality is very nice. Almost like in Turkey. But there are still some cultural differences that prevent us from understanding each other sometimes.

Turkish student Can Akkilinc takes a selfie with locals. Photos: Courtesy of Can Akkilinc


GT: What drives you to make your videos?

CA: First, I want to say for sure I love China and Chinese people, as I said before. I want to make a bridge between Chinese people and foreign countries, people especially my home, Turkey. And wish to introduce people elsewhere to everyday life in China. It's to put happiness in the hearts of both Chinese people and foreigners.

GT: What do locals think about your videos that make fun of them?

CA: Some people like it; some people don't. But one of the points of why I'm doing these is to send a message to some people here to stop doing some bad habits, so they don't come off giving a bad image in foreigners' eyes. Often in my videos I want to give this tip, which I can't say face-to-face.

GT: How are you looking to illustrate China to Turkish audiences?

CA: Every group of people in this world has good habits and bad habits. But for me, I also like bringing good habits in China to Turkey, to show Chinese culture, hospitality, kindness.

GT: Did you encounter any trouble while making videos with locals?

CA: In the beginning I thought I would face some trouble, because I thought everyone knows kung fu. But actually I received people's kindness and welcome smiles, which gave me a good image of Chinese people with good hearts, and I wanted to send that to Turkish people back home.

This article is written by Furkan Erdogan

Posted in: Metro Shanghai, About Town

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