Interracial Divorce and Asian-White Couples: It’s Not What You Think

In the world of English-language WeChat official accounts, if there’s one topic guaranteed to get coverage, it’s interracial marriage – and divorce.

The other day, someone shared an article* with me about this very issue, which asserted that such marriages were “tricky”. The article backed up its premise of marital instability with a certain “cute, handy chart” from a Thought Catalog piece, which drew on data from the 2008 study “But Will It Last?”: Marital Instability Among Interracial and Same‐Race Couples referenced in a Wikipedia article about interracial marriage in the US.

In particular, the statistics on Asian Male/White Female (AMWF) couples appeared rather alarming. Based on data from the 2008 study, AMWF marriages had a 59 percent greater chance of ending in divorce.

Whoa.

Granted, this wasn’t as high as the divorce rate for marriages between Black men and White women, deemed 200 percent more likely to split. But it also didn’t compare favorably with White Male/Asian Female (WMAF) marriages, with only a 4 percent likelihood of divorce.

So was the data illustrated in the “cute, handy chart” right about interracial marriages of Asian men and White women? Are our relationships really that vulnerable to divorce?

The short answer is, not necessarily.

Driven by curiosity, I headed over to the very Wikipedia article the Thought Catalog piece referenced to look at the section on marital instability among interracial and same-race couples.

Yes, there was the data from the 2008 study.

But — and this is a BIG but — there was also data from the 2009 study Marital Dissolution Among Interracial Couples which painted a completely different picture of the situation in Asian-White marriages compared with White-White marriages.

In this 2009 study, Asian-White marriages were the least likely interracial pairing to result in divorce, with even lower divorce rates than White-White marriages.

Or, as the authors of the 2009 study put it, “Mixed marriages involving Blacks were the least stable followed by Hispanics, whereas mixed marriages involving Asians were even more stable than endogamous White marriages.”

I was stunned.

The new data from the 2009 study in the Wikipedia page.

Why did the author of the Thought Catalog article and subsequent “cute, handy chart” ignore the 2009 data?

Well, it’s true the data wasn’t in Wikipedia when he was working on his article. (See screenshots of the page for Feb 13, 2014 and July 14, 2014 as proof.) But seeing as the 2009 study was already published and available in 2014, you can’t blame this on a Wikipedia omission alone.

And while we could sit around and ponder why the author of the Thought Catalog failed to do his due diligence on the subject of interracial divorce, I feel that his “cute, handy charts” (which probably should be renamed “cute, misleading charts”) are symbolic of our human tendency to want black and white answers, even when the reality isn’t so clear cut and conclusive.

It’s worth noting this from the 2015 study Same-Race and Interracial Asian-White Couples: Relational and Social Contexts and Relationship Outcomes, which references both the 2008 study by Bratter and King, and the 2009 study by Zhang and Van Hook (emphasis added):

Research on the outcomes of interracial relationships is inconclusive, with some evidence showing that Asian-White relationships are at less risk for relationship dissolution. Some research on interracial romantic relationships has found that interracial relationships involving Whites and Asians do not necessarily have worse outcomes than their same-race counterparts (Gaines & Agnew, 2003; Gaines et ah, 1999; Troy et al., 2006), challenging the long held notion of relationship dysfunction among interracial couples (Bratter & Eschbach, 2006; Bratter & King, 2008; Eeckhaut, Lievens, Van de Putte, & Lusyne, 2011; Heaton, 2002; Zhang & Van Hook, 2009).

In other words, you shouldn’t necessarily jump to conclusions about interracial divorce rates — or worse, enshrine them in potentially deceptive charts — including when it comes to Asian-White couples.

If you asked me what graphical illustration I’d use to represent the outcomes of interracial marriages, I’d say this is more on target:

When it comes to interracial marriages and divorce, we need more people asking the right questions — and less people coming to simplistic conclusions.

What do you think?

P.S.: The data above come from studies on interracial couples in the US. Still, for anyone wondering about interracial marriages and divorce in China, there doesn’t appear to be enough evidence to conclude, as people often do, that divorce is necessarily more likely.

For example, consider this quote from the 2013 study The Rise of Chinese-Foreign Marriage in Mainland China (1979-2010) (emphasis added):

As Figure 3 below shows, the number of divorces registered between mainland Chinese citizens and foreign nationals rose from around 80 couples in 1979 to over 1,000 couples in 2000. That figure increased to over 3,000 couples in 2003, before skyrocketing to nearly 9,500 couples in 2008. It then decreased to around 5,700 couples in 2010.

This decline is consistent with the fall in the number of Chinese-foreign marriages registered in mainland China starting in the early 2000s. The PRC’s Ministry of Civil Affairs began to disaggregate Chinese-foreign divorce statistics in 2005, by including separate figures for those involving ‘waiguoren’. Unsurprisingly, given the higher proportion of other categories of Chinese-foreign marriage until recently, most divorces relate to the ‘Chinese’ categories of Chinese-foreign marriage.

In other words, the divorce rate appears consistent with the rate of Chinese-foreign marriages registered in China, and the authors believe that many of these divorces are still between people of the same race and ethnicity.

* I’ve intentionally chosen not to link to the WeChat article I referenced, but if you absolutely must see it for yourself, search for the official account for HiTouch艾达旗 and check their articles in the past few weeks.

Cambodian Husband Deported from US, White American Wife to Follow Him to Cambodia

As the US continues to ramp up its deportation efforts, the media have documented the casualties of this punitive response toward immigrants in terms of affected families.

A heartbreaking story on PRI I came across the other day details the deportation of a Cambodian man married to a white American woman from Wisconsin:

Lisa Kum has an endless list of tasks every day. The 41-year-old from Cottage Grove, Wisconsin, has a 19-month-old daughter and a high school-aged son. She’s also tending to her health after undergoing elbow surgery earlier this year.

Nowadays, she’s also busy growing her business that sells refurbished HP printer parts — so that she can sell it and move her family to Cambodia. That’s because Kum’s husband, Sothy Kum, was deported to Cambodia, a country he left when he was just 2 years old. She plans to shut down the small business they started together four years ago and start over 8,000 miles away.

“It’s pretty much been pure hell,” she says. “It’s very emotional. At the same time, you have to get up every morning and keep going because what other choice do you have?”

I can only imagine what a nightmare this has to be for her and her family. Meanwhile, you’re probably wondering, what exactly prompted the US to arrest and deport Sothy Kim? The article details that as well:

Lisa says her husband spent most of the last two years in immigration detention, almost as long as their young daughter has been alive. Sothy and his family fled Cambodia as refugees and spent years in camps, first in Thailand and then the Philippines. He arrived in the US in 1981, when he was about 6 years old.

Lisa and Sothy met in 2009 when they worked at the same company. In 2014, they decided to quit their jobs and take the financial risk of starting their own business. Sothy allowed an acquaintance to pay him to send marijuana to his house. He was convicted of possession of marijuana with the intent to deliver.

After serving his one-year sentence in 2016, Sothy was again detained by ICE. Though Sothy was a legal permanent resident with a green card, his conviction made him deportable. He remained in ICE detention until August 2017, when he was released just in time to see his daughter turn 1 and to marry Lisa. But by October 2017, Sothy was back in custody.

The reporter doesn’t probe further into Sothy’s conviction for marijuana, but it follows a sinister pattern in the US — that people of color constitute close to 80 percent of those imprisoned for possession and sales of marijuana, compared with a paltry 4 percent for whites. (And interestingly, with the legalization of marijuana in America, the people who now stand most to profit are overwhelmingly white.)

Does a conviction of this nature warrant deportation? Supposedly only people committing “crimes of violence” should be sent back to their countries, and it’s hard to imagine that any real violence was going on here.

Meanwhile, there’s another question worth asking — is it right to deport a man who came to the US as a refugee, and at such a young age? The actions of the current Trump administration have overwhelmingly shown they have no regard for such people, including the most recent example of ending protected status for Hondurans in the US. But still, it boggles the mind that a country that would welcome a refugee when he was only 6 years old has now shipped him back to his country of birth, despite the fact that he’s lived the vast majority of his adult life in the US.

Lisa and Sothy Kum remind me of so many interracial couples I’ve encountered over the years, and it was chilling to encounter their story in PRI. Meanwhile, I can’t help but wonder, what will their lives be like after reuniting in Cambodia? Will they be able to find a way forward for themselves and their family? I know deportation can have a devastating effect on people and their families, as a recent report of the tragic end of one man deported to Mexico revealed.

But here’s hoping their family will overcome these difficulties and start anew in Cambodia.

What do you think of this story? Do you believe Sothy Kim’s crime warranted deportation?

Chinese Gymnast Li Donghua Marries Swiss Woman, Wins Olympic Gold After Great Hardships

By Christophe95 – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=26833408

Team or love. That was the choice that Chinese Olympic gymnast Li Donghua faced in 1988 when he fell for Esperanza Friedli, a young Swiss woman he met in Beijing when she was visiting China that year, as reported by China Daily. Li could either stay with China’s national gymnastics team or wed Friedli, but not both.

By then, Li was accustomed to hardship, surviving a number of devastating injuries in the course of his gymnastics career with China, including one that nearly claimed his life. Even if he stayed with the team, he would only serve as a coach, which meant he couldn’t continue pursuing his dreams of Olympic gold.

So Li Donghua left the team to marry Esperanza Friedli.

Their joyous reunion, however, couldn’t satisfy his longtime goal of medaling at the Games — which is why the couple moved to Switzerland. But the move put Li Donghua’s Olympic ambitions on hold:

Swiss law stipulated that immigrants married to Swiss nationals must wait five years to acquire Swiss nationality, which meant that Li would have to wait that long before he could compete internationally.  Li ended up watching the bulk of his prime athletic years, including 1992 and the Barcelona Olympics, agonizingly tick away.

Those years were tough on him:

He had to train without any funds and his only coach was a set of video tapes.

“I had to rent the apparatus and install them by myself, but I was jobless.

“At first, there was naturally much jealousy from local gymnasts, and many Swiss did not understand why they should have a Chinese person on their team.

His wife Esperanza struggled during this time to support Li with her job at a department store.

By the time the 1996 Summer Olympics began, Li Donghua was already a decorated gymnast, winning bronze in 1994 and gold in 1995 at the World Artistic Gymnastics Championship. In Atlanta, Li finally realized his Olympic hopes, walking away with a gold medal on the pommel horse.

You have to love what he said of his Olympic win:

“There is no question in my mind,” Li said six months later, “half of this medal is mine and half of it is Esperanza’s.”

While Li Donghua and his Swiss wife ultimately divorced in 2004, their legendary story of overcoming hardships for love and Olympic gold lives on.

Want to read more coverage of Olympic-related stories? Check out our Olympics archives, where you’ll find Olympic Speedskater Shaolin Sandor Liu Has a Cool China Connection Beyond His Chinese Father and 9 Awesome Olympic Moments from Asian Figure Skaters Around the World.

Guest Post: Odd Questions I’ve Heard About My Interracial Love

Anyone who has ever dated outside their race will relate to this wonderful guest post by Chi, who blogs at Talking of Chinese.

Do you have a guest post you’d like to see featured on Speaking of China? Visit the submit a post page to learn how to have your words published here.
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The vast majority of people (whether consciously or unconsciously) date and marry within their own race.

According to Wikipedia, 97% of married white men and women in America are married to another white person, 89% of married black men and women are married to another black person and 91% of married Asian men and women are married to another Asian person.

If you happen to be in the less than 4% (according to Wikipedia only 3.9% of married couples in the US in 2008 were interracial couples – this is a big increase from less than 1% in 1990 but still an extremely low percentage) you are almost certain to get a question or comment about your interracial relationship at some point.

Both my fiance and I are Australian. I was born in Australia to anglo parents, he was born in China to Chinese parents.

While most people I’ve encountered don’t (at least openly) say anything about us being an interracial couple, I have encountered curiosity from both westerners and Asians as well as a few rare comments that are at least misguided if not racist.

The most common question I have gotten from Asians is a surprised “but how did you meet/get together with a Chinese guy?” while I’ve had both Asians and white people ask if I am “attracted to Asians”.

The first question stems mostly from curiosity, I think. While it’s fairly common to see white men with Asian women it is far more rare to see Asian men with white women (although I am happy to see it does seem to be getting more common).

The first question is also easy to answer – we were flatmates, we didn’t get along at all at first but slowly became friends and eventually fell in love.

The second question I honestly find bizarre. Imagine you asked that of a white person who was dating another white person “so, you are attracted to white people?”

No, I am not attracted to white people, or Asians, or black people or any race.

I am attracted to the man I am with because of WHO he is not what race he is.

I am attracted to him because he is strong but also prepared to show true vulnerability with me (something I have found to be incredibly rare).

I am attracted to him because he takes responsibility (for himself, for his decisions, for his family). He doesn’t expect anything from anyone.

I am attracted to him because he has an adventurous spirit and finds ways things can be done rather than putting them in the too hard basket.

I am attracted to him because he doesn’t shy away from things that are difficult, he faces challenges as they come up.

I am attracted to him because he knows what he wants and is prepared to work hard for it.

I am attracted to him because he prioritises what’s important to him and doesn’t let other things or other people run his life.

I am attracted to him because he’s upfront, he doesn’t manipulate or play games.

I am attracted to him because he is great at solving problems, an excellent traveller and can fix things.

Most of all I am attracted to him because we get each other on a level I find hard to explain – I haven’t felt this in any other relationship (even one that lasted for years).

Also, I think he’s pretty cute and his snuggles are second to none 🙂

Chi (her real name, no exotic background, pronounced Chai, like the tea) is engaged to a man who was born in China and grew up in Argentina before immigrating to Australia. Chi writes about her experiences (mostly her struggles trying to learn Mandarin) at www.talkingofchinese.com. —–

Speaking of China is always on the lookout for outstanding guest posts! If you have something you’d like us to feature, visit the submit a post page for details — and then submit yours today.

Photo Essay: How My Chinese Husband Shows Love in Everyday Moments

Later today after 8pm Beijing time, the new group blog WWAM Bam (Western Women & Asian Men – Breaking All Molds) will be publishing a group post on how our Chinese husbands show their love for us, including a short contribution from me. I wrote:

My husband is the kind of guy who shows his love in those thoughtful everyday moments. You know, the little things he does to tell me — through actions, not words — just how much he cares.

To honor Valentine’s Day, I thought I’d extend that with a photo essay highlighting some of those everyday moments – in no particular order — that remind me just how much he loves me.

#1: Bringing me a steaming hot cup of my favorite dragonwell tea every morning

Jun knows exactly how I love my green tea, and always has it ready just after I wake up. 😉

#2: Putting bandages on my cuts (like when I cut myself shaving)

I’m such a klutz…but Jun is such a sweetie to want to bandage my cuts.

#3: Blow-drying my hair after I shower

Once I step out of the bathroom, Jun is usually ready — blow-dryer in hand — to serve. Thanks Jun!

#4: Tucking the covers around me to help me stay warm

When Jun goes to bed after me or gets up before I do, he often tucks the covers snugly around my shoulders. (He also did it when I was in the hospital last year, which is where this picture was taken.)

#5: Taking the garbage out (and doing other “dirty jobs” around the house)

Ever since we married, Jun has this thing about “dirty jobs” (like taking out the garbage) — he prefers to take care of them. (Did I also mention he loves to help my dad mow the lawn, as he did last year when we went to the US?)

#6: Warming my hands in his when they’re too cold

I love it when Jun holds my hands, especially just to warm them up when it’s cold outside.

Happy Valentine’s Day, Jun. I love you.

Guest Post: How I Met My Asian Christian Grey (Reader Discretion Advised)

Flye Hudson, a Lesbian Pickup Artist, shares the story of how she met her “Asian Christian Grey” in this guest post. She also reveals an excerpt from her new memoir PET., the story of how she was seduced by her Asian Christian Grey and how they both joined forces to become prominent members of the underground seduction community.

(NOTE: Flye references sexual content and language that may be offensive to some readers. Reader discretion is advised.)

Do you have a story you’re itching to share on Speaking of China? Check out the guest post guidelines at the submit a post page right now.
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GUESTPOST1A lot of people aren’t aware of the different types of relationships that occur for AMWF couples. A lot of people aren’t aware of the true dominance that Asian men really have. I read a lot of… romance books. And believe it or not, many of them are cheesy. What I’ve lived however is something that is very much on the dark side. A chaotic and messed up romance life in an underground community of seduction artists. I still can’t believe I am living the real thing.

There have been a lot of crazy things that have happened with my partner and I. We met off of a fetish website that catered to BDSM, which I was referred to by my former sorority sister. When I had filled out my profile, I was also trying to get back at my now ex girlfriend who had cheated on me with her girlfriend and her former boyfriends. I had specifically wrote in that I had high preferences for Asian men but was open to all kinds of men (at the time I didn’t think most Asian men would be attracted to my plainness. I was definitely the cat loving, rock loving, emo scene kind of girl back then unlike today). I had received MANY messages that were very inappropriate, especially some that were racist for me putting down Asian men. It’s amazing how insecure and rude some dudes can be on the internet.

I received a message finally from someone who approached me with the line: “Been hit up by a lot of creepers, huh?” At first I didn’t think anything of it because it was the first normal message I had ever received on the site. So maybe it was a little silly of me, but I went back and forth with him. But after a short exchange of messages, a Skype call, an accidental stand up on a date, and finally meeting in person, we ended up dating and getting into a lot of trouble.

Trouble means a lot of things. From obeying and serving an Asian Master, to having a threesome with my ex girlfriend on Halloween night, to two hospital visits, to learning the art of seduction, to the amazing parties and women we met on the way in our journey, to meeting his traditional Chinese mother who found our sex toy kit, we have been through so much. And while a lot of pain and torment came with some of our adventures, I do not regret them.

To get a taste of those adventures, here’s an excerpt from my new memoir PET.

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IMG_20160508_131208“Hey, did you forget about our date?”

I had already f***** it up! Wednesday at 2. How could I have forgotten? Perhaps it was me checking my bank account every so often that I stressed a little prematurely- I had taken an additional shift at an odd job that I considered to be sweet but had me going more insane than I already was.

“You’re really pretty,” said a six year old, playing with my hair. I look up at a few of the workers. They smiled with their mouths but glared with their eyes.

“You know what I wish?” the boy asked.

“No idea buddy,” I said, brushing off their stares, “What do you wish for?”

“I wish I were a zombie so that I could sneak into your room every night and bite your face off.” He whispered, then proceeding to put his hands around my neck and squeeze. I laughed nervously and looked to the other counselors for help. They stared angrily for a few moments before snatching the kid off and leading him to a different activity.

I didn’t understand my passion for working in such crazy conditions. Maybe I just had a heart for people who needed help- or maybe I was just crazy and wanted to work somewhere that made me feel more normal. But none of it mattered for the time being, because I had just lost the most exciting thing that happened to me all month.

“I’ll make it up to You,” I reasoned, “Let’s do Friday. I’ll buy You lunch, my treat.”

“Sorry, I don’t like getting stood up,” Ryder said, “Good luck in the future.”

“I know, I forgot and I’m sorry,” I said, “but I was really working. I needed the money and I just got paid. Let me treat You out.”

“I don’t know.”

“Is there any way I can make You change your mind?” I asked.

Silence. Five minutes later, my phone buzzed.

Ryder. “Let’s talk on video tonight. Right now.”

“Right now?”

“Why not? Are you a catfish? Why else would you be afraid?”

Because I looked like a pile of s***?

“Give me 30 minutes?” I texted.

“Yep.”

Plenty of time to do makeup and fix that hairrrrrrr.

Within 30 minutes I had clicked onto the video screen, made the call, and then… Wow.

It was love at first Skype.

“Hey,” He said. But at the time, there was no trace of seriousness on Him whatsoever. He was smiling, grinning ear to ear.

“Hello,” I said, immediately attracted to the man who looked better than His pictures online. I couldn’t feel my face for a moment, until He started laughing.

“What’s so funny?” I huffed, feeling insecure, “do You think I’m a catfish?”

“You’re hilarious,” He responded, “and no. I just never took you as a funny girl. But hey, thanks for not flaking on the call. You had me thinking you weren’t real.”

“Funny girl? Of course I’m real,” I justified. “And I’m sorry I flaked. Work, it just-”

Ryder laughed again. “No worries. You’re totally shady though.”

IMG_20160329_130401“Whatever you say,” I said, relaxing, “so You said You’re from Partytown University?”

“Yep. Now I work.”

“What do You do?”

“I’m a manager, remember?”

“Oh, that’s right,” I said, unfolding my fingers into quotes, “Ize Management Major.’”

He only laughed again. “Exactly.”

It was so confusing how calm and happy He seemed. His texts seemed a little more serious, but talking to Him- He was so laid back. It was just different from what I experienced.

But not bad, not bad at all.

“What about you?” He asked.

“I’m a social worker and some other s***,” I said, “interesting jobs.”

“How many jobs do you work?”

“2 part time.”

“How’s the money?”

“Decent enough,” I lied.

“You said you’re from Hometown?” Ryder asked.

“Yeah, it’s the pits.”

“Ain’t hard to imagine.”

“So what brought You to the site?” I blurted out. It was a question weighing heavily on my mind.

Another laugh- in a darker tone.

“I want to find a submissive,” Ryder said, “I had an ex girlfriend a while back who wasn’t into the lifestyle. Wasn’t very fun. So now I’m much more free to do as I please. I’m looking for someone who’s open minded, eager to learn, and who knows the meaning of loyalty. And what brings you here?”

“Have You ever had a submissive before?” I asked, cringing at the word ‘loyal’.

“A few. Have you always enjoyed avoiding questions?” Ryder snickered.

“Fine.” I said. Maybe I was playing too many games. “I’m here because I’m tired of the way I’m living my life. I’m not a bad girl or anything. In fact, I’ve usually spent most of my life being busy- even too busy for me. I want to figure out what I really want and experience more out of life with the right person. I just want to find someone that I can grow to love in servitude.”

Ryder’s expression was unreadable.

“I’m used to people f****** around with me,” I said suddenly, “people who like to push me over, use me, play their games. So if You’re here to play games and f*** me over, it’s not going to work.”

“But you’re the one who stood me up, right?” Ryder smirked.

He did have a point.

“Don’t worry,” Ryder said, “you’re not the only one in that boat.”

“How many girls have You been with?”

“9 or 10,” Ryder said, “you?”

“About the same,” I said.

“Guys or girls?”

“Girls.”

“So you’re a pimp,” Ryder teased, “or should I say a madam.”

“No, that’s not nice,” I pouted.

“But I’m not a nice guy,” Ryder winked.

Something peered at me from inside the closet.

Flye Hudson is also known as “The Lesbian Pickup Artist” and is the author of PET., the story of how she was seduced by her Asian Christian Grey and how they both joined forces to become prominent members of the underground seduction community today. You can contact her at [email protected]
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Speaking of China is always on the lookout for outstanding guest posts! If you have something you’d like us to feature, visit the submit a post page for details — and then submit yours today.

Guest Post: Why We Are Not Married (Yet)

Betty of Betty Has A Panda has lived happily with Mr. Panda in Vienna, Austria for over seven years. But they’re not married — and it has led to lots of uncomfortable questions, including questions Betty has asked herself.

Do you have a story you’d like to share here on Speaking of China? We’re always on the lookout for terrific guest posts. Check out the submit a post page for more on how to have your writing featured here.
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(Photo by Nick Nguyen)

I am tired. Tired of all the ‘Why are you not married? Do you want to break up?” questions, or the pronouncements of ‘Oh, he is ONLY your boyfriend!’ Tired of explaining our allegedly ‘not-so-serious’ relationship and why we are not married (yet). While I think that this little detail of saying ‘I do!’ is not of any concern to anyone, I do not want to see others belittle our relationship just because we did not seal our relationship in front of a random registrar (yet). Is our relationship not worth as much as that of someone who is already married? This could be due to varied reasons, liberal worldviews, no bureaucratic obstacles, or bad role models. Beyond doubt, not being married does not make our relationship less worthy, and to answer all of those questions: we do not plan to break up. Not now, and also not in the future. Why would we date and live together for more than seven years now? Mr. Panda and I have our reasons to shack up.

Let me start at the beginning. Parents’ relationships can sometimes be a disastrous example to their children, which can make it hard for their children to connect with others – emotionally and legally. Mr. Panda’s parents are not exactly how I would imagine devoted parents. You could actually say they are as loving and caring as a metal scouring pad. Mr. Panda was the unplanned latecomer, and was therefore always made responsible for all troubles brewing in Chinese parent’s fragile marriage. Albeit they already split up three times before Mr. Panda was born, and came back together again. Mean teasing and verbal insults were on top of their daily agenda — not what one might expect in a loving and caring relationship. Of course divorce is absolutely prohibited. Instead, they continue to live with each other, leaving both their children emotionally crippled und almost unable to be in a working relationship with someone.

On top of that, only soon after Mr. Panda and I started dating, another event aggravated Mr. Panda’s beliefs in the whole social construct called marriage. As another blow of fate, Mr. Panda’s older brother, married to a woman from the Middle East with two children, filed for divorce due to cultural and personal disagreements – and told his parents only six months later. He had been married for quite some time, but sadly, in the end, it did not work out. While both of them separated without any bad feelings, the parents’ world collapsed. Mr. Panda’s mom cried for weeks, begging and commanding them not to separate, but naturally nothing helped. Soon after, the former wife moved out, and cracked the last intact pieces of Mr. Panda’s mom’s picture of a perfect family. I consoled her for weeks, trying to put her sorrows about her grandchildren at ease. Her faith in functioning marriages was busted, and as a result Mr. Panda is even more scared now. He is not scared that our relationship will break apart. But the only two marriages around him just did not work out. The reason why he did not propose to me so far? He is scared our relationship might end after marriage, and to a certain degree I can understand his (baseless) anxiety.

What is my excuse? I was busy with my studies, and time just flew by far too fast. Just in a blink of an eye, many years passed by. Up until now, I did not really care whether we said ‘I do!’ or not. We had no need to rush because we are not in desperate need of a visa. We are not pressured to do so because of some religious beliefs. We just spend our days happily together.

But this year, one thing led to another. I found out about the big AMWF community on the internet, which was all about happily married (intercultural) couples with their beautiful wedding photos. Furthermore, we were invited to a summer wedding by one of my friends, and another one of my good friends got engaged. Thanks to these events I also developed an urge to marry Mr. Panda, and I started to believe that it would actually draw us closer together.

It is a fact that nothing in our relationship will change after we marry. We will both live our lives together as we did up until now. We will both be just as serious about us being happy together and passionate about our relationship as we are now. We both will be the same individuals as ever. And still, here I am, apparently forgetting my liberal beliefs, letting my modern world break down over a marriage certificate I don’t need, while I am waiting for him to take the first step.

The last few months, we talked elaborately about this topic, I tried to discuss his fears and about how we both felt about marriage. But as expected, he did not want to talk about his feelings. Our conversations were rather rational. However, some time ago, he confessed to me that he was thinking about us and our future very hard for quite some time now. He asked me to be patient — that I should wait a little more — making me all excited. Hopefully, traumatized Mr. Panda can gather all his courage soon and will finally propose.

Betty and Mr. Panda live in Vienna, Austria, where she shares fascinating stories about their more than seven years together at www.bettyhasapanda.com.
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Speaking of China is always on the lookout for outstanding guest posts! If you have something you’d like us to feature, visit the submit a post page for details — and then submit yours today.

Interview with Competitive Ceroc/Modern Jive Dancers Samson Chan and Georgia Traher

Georgia and Samson
Georgia and Samson

Falling in love on the dance floor is not just the stuff of romantic comedies. It happened in London, England to Samson “Samo” Chan and book blogger Georgia Traher, who felt the sparks fly while dancing Modern Jive and Ceroc for fun.

But for this AMWF couple, dancing is more than a hobby. Samson recently won first place in the Advanced Freestyle category with his partner and now competes at an open level. Georgia, who has danced since she was 13, is an intermediate dancer just starting her competitive career. Wow!

This weekend, they will rock the ballrooms of Hong Kong as participants in the Pan Asian Ceroc Championships, a charity event raising money for Angels for Orphans. Here’s a Youtube video from last year’s event:

In fact, the couple will be part of a group lead by Samson that will provide entertainment:

Be entertained by performances from Samson Chan and his team of 8 young, vibrant Ceroc dancers…

…and instruction on Saturday Oct 24:

4-5pm, Whips & Scrolls with Samson ‘Samo’ Chan:

Want to leave your followers with that “Wwheee!” feeling and impress onlookers? Whip along to this workshop to cover both some whirlwind moves and slick techniques.

The technique side will focus on connection for both lead and follow, then you’ll be learning a style of moves called ‘Whips’ and ‘Scrolls’ that can be used to enhance your smooth jive repertoire.

About Samo

Samo is known for his smooth and fluid style. This diverse dancer has stormed onto the UK ceroc scene, winning people over with his infectious smile and whirlwind whips. His smooth jive butters up all he dances with, and his collection of trophies would tell you the judges love him too!

FYI, for those of you new to Ceroc, here’s a quick introduction from the Ceroc website:

Ceroc is an abbreviation of the French phrase c’est Rock.

We have been introducing complete beginners to the world of partner dancing for over 30 years and today we are the biggest dance club in the world with hundreds of classes across the globe.

We teach dance in its general form, and we use dances like Salsa, Ballroom, Latin American, Street dance, Hip Hop, Musical Theatre, Tango and Jive to develop our creative and expressive inner-self.

I sat down with Georgia and Samson to learn more about how they met, their strengths as dancers, and what they’ll be up to during the Pan Asian Ceroc Championships.

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You both met on the dance floor. Could you tell us a little bit about that first time you were together?

We had had a few dances before we officially ‘met’ but he soon became my favourite dancer.

Most nights after the class, the group will move on to a nearby bar to keep dancing. As we were walking over, he asked me out for a drink on our own and we’ve carried on dancing since then.

You do Ceroc and Modern Jive dancing. Why are you attracted to these styles of dance?

The Ceroc franchise is set up to be friendly and for socialising as well as learning to dance. All dancing is great for meeting people, my dad and step mum met while dancing (tango) as well! Modern jive isn’t what people imagine, it is alot smoother than traditional jive or swing dancing and people often surprise themselves with how easy it is to learn few moves.

Could you tell us a little about your competitive strengths as dancers?

Competitions are so much fun! Samson inspired me to start to compete after I watched him (win) in London. Competition dancing is a little different to our usual freestyle (casual/social) Dancing. You get used to finding your judge and showing off your personality. Samson’s speciality is musicallity and hitting every beat with a ‘wow’ move with his partner. I love the feeling of competition dancing, you have to tighten up your styling and there is nothing like hearing the crowd cheer!

This weekend, you are both in Hong Kong for the Pan Asian Ceroc Championships, which is being organized as a charity event for Angels for Orphans. Could you tell us a little about what you and Samson will be dancing in this competition and how your efforts are supporting this charity?

This weekend the Pan Asia Ceroc Championships are going on. We are a group of eight and we are performing a group caberet dance, which features ceroc in its most advanced forms to show off what is possible with these simple dance moves. Some of the more advanced in the group will be judging the competition beginner categories, and the group is also providing two workshops to pass on some signature moves. We’re entertainment, judges and instructors for the weekend.

What advice would you have for someone interested in competitive dance?

Here I’ll hand over to Samson as he’s the expert: The most important things for competitive ceroc dancing are the couple’s personality, that they are compatible with eachother and dance with the same style. A few flash moves are useful but most of all it’s important to listen to the music. And as I tell Georgia: No making faces! A resting happy face is fine, but if you mess up pretend you didn’t, you might think the judges can’t see a wrinkled nose, but they’re always watching! You have to love every move and every song, even if you’re dancing to YMCA by the village people!

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A big thanks to Georgia and Samson for this interview! If you’re in Hong Kong and wondering what to do this weekend, consider heading to the Pan Asian Ceroc Championships, where you can catch them and many other brilliant dancers in action while supporting the charity Angels for Orphans. Book lovers will enjoy Georgia’s book blog Stories in Books.

Wanted: Talented Men/Women in AMWF Couples to Interview Here

Jess Meider
Jess Meider
I featured Jess Meider last month right here on this blog — and I’m looking for more talented folks to interview here.

The more I’ve come to know the AMWF community here in China and beyond, the more I’ve realized that, truly, we’ve got talent in more ways than one. Singer songwriters, musicians, entrepreneurs, actors, artists, dancers and much more. I’ve already featured a few talented folks here (such as Ember Swift and Jess Meider).

And that got me thinking. Wouldn’t it be fun to introduce more outstanding individuals in the community – inspiring men and women who just happen to be part of an AMWF couple?

If you’re talented and in an AMWF couple, or would like to recommend someone who fits that description, e-mail me today! If I choose to feature you on the blog, you’ll be interviewed by me and have the opportunity to promote your work here.

I look forward to hearing from you with your suggestions. In the meantime, here’s to our talented community!

P.S.: I also welcome guest posts to run on Fridays – and if you’ve been thinking about submitting something to my blog, it’s never been a better time. I have a lot of openings in the next coming weeks. Check out the submit a post page for details on what I’m looking for.

The Love Stories of East German Women and North Korean Men in New German Documentary “Loved, Engaged, Lost”

Loved Engaged Lost German DocumentaryWhen North Korea sent some 357 men over to the former East Germany in the 1950s to train them, the two countries also unexpectedly set in motion some of the most dramatic and bittersweet stories of forbidden love that I’ve ever encountered.

For example, consider the case of Renata Hong, who waited for 47 years before reuniting with her husband in North Korea:

Renate returned to Germany on Tuesday after a 12-day reunion with her long-lost husband in North Korea – a highly unusual episode given the Communist government’s policy of keeping most of its people without mail or telephone links to the rest of the world, not to mention the Internet.

Traveling with Renate were their two sons. Peter Hyon Zol was 10 months old, and Renate was pregnant with Uwe, when the family broke up in the vortex of the Cold War.

Renate Kleinle and Hong Ok Geun met in 1955, when they attended the same freshman chemistry class at Friedrich Schiller University in Jena, East Germany. Hong was a humorous exchange student from North Korea, then East Germany’s Communist ally.

They fell in love. Because both governments frowned on marriages between North Korean students and East Germans, the couple married in 1960 in a rural town where the local authorities were unaware of the national government’s policy. There were no guests.

The couple’s happy time lasted only one year, however. In 1961, the Pyongyang government recalled all 350 of its students in East Germany, a measure believed prompted by a few North Korean students’ defections to the West. Hong was given 48 hours to pack.

Holding 10-month-old Peter, Renate bid a tearful farewell to Hong at the Jena train station.

I’m tearing up just imagining that scene for myself.

Well, German filmmaker Sung-Hyung Cho stumbled upon Renate’s love story and it inspired her to discover more of these couples, ultimately leading to a new documentary film released in June 2015 titled “Verliebt, Verlobt, Verloren” (“Loved, Engaged, Lost”). Here’s the trailer on Youtube for the documentary film, presented in German (folks in China, you’ll need a VPN to view it):

I’ve also discovered an excellent interview with Sung-Hyung Cho about the film. Here’s a snippet:

DW: What was the idea behind the film?

Sung-Hyung Cho: The story of Renate Hong was very popular in South Korea. In 2006, her story became the talk of the town after a South Korean historian – who had conducted some research in Jena about the relationship between North Korea and East Germany – met Renate Hong by chance.

She narrated her story, and he propagated it on the Internet. The response was overwhelming. The Koreans were blown away by the sad but beautiful love story.

Most Koreans, myself included, know the story. Moreover, I was greatly interested in knowing and better understanding former East Germany. I also wanted to know more about North Korea, even if only indirectly.

Have you ever heard about this fascinating chapter of AMWF history between Germany and North Korea? And, for those of you who have seen the film, what did you think of it?

P.S.: Thanks to Ruth of the wonderful blog China Elevator Stories for tipping me off to this!