“Get out and be a part of the creative life here in Beijing,” one of the voices in my head thundered. It was easy to find someplace to have my voice heard. I grabbed my guitar and my guts and took Paddy O’Shea’s open mic night by storm. Okay, maybe that is a tad too-strong description for the nerve-wracked performance I gave, but I am going back again with a vengeance. I have since been invited to no less than three open mics in different parts of this vast city on different nights. It is a thrill to get up and play anywhere, but there is something special about doing it here, so far from home and amidst so many people from far different places.
There are galleries, publications and websites hungry for creative content, films and television shows needing the voices of native English speakers for dubbing. There are writers and artists of all stripes gallivanting around Beijing looking for others for inspiration and collaboration. Working at Aihua English introduced me to some of these other artists, who happen to be colleagues, within days of arriving in Beijing. Getting out in the city to the art district and seeing Chinese art and attending a stunning theater performance opened up my eyes and ears to the fierce beauty of Chinese history and expression. My schedule at Aihua allows me the time to experience and contribute to the rich arts scene here, and that freedom is one of the many things I love about my job.