China and I
I arrived 24 years ago never expecting to settle down here.
Many Chinese found fortune abroad; for me it was the other direction.
Raised in Washington, D.C., I came to Beijing in 1983, an eager 23 year old, to study Chinese. I began courting Stacy, an American classmate, during nightly walks around the dark alleyways on the campus of Beijing Normal University. As we talked, we dreamed. China was growing, changing, and opening, so quickly, so surely. We saw endless opportunity.
Even before marrying, we formed a company, despite carrying US$50,000 in debt from student loans. The McCall Pattern Company in New York hired us to set up a China sales network.
For years we lived in a Beijing three-star standard hotel room, with one bed removed so it could also serve as our office. We rode “Yongjiu” bicycles everywhere. We got out of debt and saved every penny we could.
As salespeople, we visited over 40 cities in China, even places like Baotou and Yinchuan where in those days a Chinese-speaking foreigner could really draw a crowd. People everywhere were so friendly and inquisitive. “Are you used to life here?” It gets better every day. “Why not do business in America instead?” We like challenges, and Chinese people are so smart, China surely has a bright future!
In late 1992, within months of Deng Xiaoping's famous last Southern Tour 南巡, we moved to Guangzhou, investing our savings in a venture called "Healthy Household" 小康之家, www.xiaokang.com. We started advertising in magazines like "Readers," and customers sent in money for products hard to find locally. We deliver by post with an unconditional money back guarantee, which has won customers' loyalty, and now employ 200.
Our son Eber (康希) came along in 2001 and son Abraham (康亚) in 2004. Both were born in Guangzhou. Thank you China for all you've given me; I hope to continue giving back for the next 20 years!
Paul Condrell 康保乐
Five Reasons I want to be torchbearer:
1 Join China’s people in celebrating the Beijing Olympics (we foreign residents are proud too!).
2 Show my two China-born sons that our family, though American, is part of Chinese society.
3 Give Chinese people a broader perspective on foreigners here.
4 Inspire other foreigners to make China their home (it’s a vibrant, exciting place to live!)
5 Motivate myself to get into better physical condition!
Seven Reasons I might be chosen:
1 Over 20 year resident likely to stay a lifetime.
2 A story of rags to riches (in Chinese: "the first pot of gold").
3 Lots of votes. (thanks to friends and customers!).
4 Children born and being raised here (aren't they cute?).
5 Fluent Chinese speaker. (although that’s not unusual anymore).
6 Reads China Daily online every day (not kidding).
7 Has a Lenovo “ThinkCentre” computer on his desk (Honestly! Dozens of my employees do too).