Video blog­ger bridges cul­tures

China Daily (USA) - - ACROSS AMERICA - By JUDY ZHU in New York judyzhu@chi­nadai­lyusa.com

Jes­sica Bei­necke walks the streets of Man­hat­tan, say­ing ni hao to thou­sands of peo­ple while livestream­ing on Weibo.

“Hey guys! Good morn­ing and good evening no mat­ter where you are! To­day, let me show you how to or­der a flat white (a less foamy cap­puc­cino),” Bei­necke said in her en­er­getic voice.

The blonde thir­ty­ish lady speaks flu­ent Man­darin and holds up a selfie stick as she in­ter­acts with thou­sands of Chi­nese fans on screen.

Known in China as Bai Jie, Bei­necke be­came an on­line celebrity thanks to her se­ries of in­struc­tional English slang videos for Chi­nese mil­len­ni­als and later ex­panded her reper­toire with Crazy Fresh Chi­nese for Man­darin learn­ers. She has had a live broad­cast for a year.

She posts her one- to three­minute videos on Weibo, where she has more than 400,000 fol­low­ers. For each episode, she shifts through Amer­i­can lingo, in­tro­duc­ing ex­pres­sions and ex­plain­ing their mean­ings in Chi­nese in her sig­na­ture peppy, com­i­cal style.

Her con­tent, which she usu­ally films on her smart­phone, has been viewed more than 100 mil­lion times this year.

For the Ohio Univer­sity jour­nal­ism grad­u­ate and Mid­dle­bury Col­lege grad­u­ate de­gree holder, it be­gan with her jour­ney to study in China in 2007.

“China feels like a sec­ond home to me for the friends that I made … from the very first teach­ers to in­spire me to learn Chi­nese and to the first room­mates that I had in Bei­jing and Hangzhou,” she said.

“When I started my busi­ness … I wanted to cre­ate con­tent that will help young Chi­nese peo­ple un­der­stand what it is like to live in Amer­ica, be that friend who helps them re­al­ize their dream of learn­ing con­ver­sa­tional English and learn­ing cul­tures out­side of China.”

Last year, Bei­necke was in­vited to con­duct a 30-minute speech in Chi­nese at Alibaba’s first global phi­lan­thropy con­fer­ence, to ad­vo­cate for the deeper de­vel­op­ment of a cul­ture of pri­vate phi­lan­thropy in China.

In 2015, Bei­necke was named to For­eign Pol­icy’s Pa­cific Power In­dex as one of the 50 peo­ple shap­ing the fu­ture of the US China re­la­tion­ship, “for tak­ing Amer­i­can cul­ture and lan­guage vi­ral on the Chi­nese web . ... Bei­necke has har­nessed the power of so­cial me­dia to teach English — and Chi­nese — to count­less ea­ger lan­guage-learn­ers.”

Sit­ting at her apart­ment in mid­town Man­hat­tan, coin­ci­den­tally across the street from a Chi­nese bub­ble tea shop, Bei­necke talked about her ties to China.

“Be­hind me are paint­ings that I pur­chased when I was in Bei­jing. They are hu­tong doors. Every day it re­minds me of my zhong guo jia ren (Chi­nese fam­i­lies),” she said.

“Just the fact that a girl from a small town in Ohio can have any kind of im­pact on the world’s top two economies still blows my mind.

“I be­lieve that peo­ple-to peo­ple ex­change will al­ways be one of the top fac­tors im­pact­ing the US-China re­la­tion­ship,” Bei­necke said.

JUDY ZHU / CHINA DAILY

Jes­sica Bei­necke, whose Weibo livestream from New York in Man­darin has many Chi­nese fans.

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