- Love knows no borders
Everett Paradise at Giraffe English Training Center
Everett Paradise with his wife and daughter
H o m e i n W u h a n
Name: Everett Paradise
Nationality: The U.S.
Time spent in Wuhan: 10 years
Occupation: English teacher at Wuhan Giraffe English Training Center
By Vicky Huang
Finding your soulmate is not easy, and finding your soulmate half way around the world is something only achieved by destiny. For Everett Paradise, it was destiny that brought him to Wuhan ten years ago, and it was destiny that brought him and his wife together. He came here alone, but over time, his family grew; he met his wife, and the two of them have a beautiful daughter together. For Everett, his greatest joy, is without a doubt, his family.
When in Wuhan,
do as the locals do
Everett Paradise came to Wuhan in 2005 after being introduced to this city by some friends from Hong Kong. Shortly after he arrived, he took a job at the English First training center, where his future wife, Chen Shuang, worked.
"As colleagues, we had a lot to talk about. Eventually, I started to feel a tug when we parted. I knew that love was not far off," Everett explained. Chen Shuang and Everett's relationship began in 2007, and together, they set out on a grand adventure.
Recalling the advice of his colleagues, Everett said, "If a man wants to marry a girl from Wuhan, he must first pass his future mother-in-law's tests." Just the same, Everett decided to give it a go first with Chen Shuang's father.
Talking about his meeting with Chen Shuang's father, Everett said, at that time, his Chinese language abilities were limited, but that didn't stop him. Armed with a pencil, a notebook, and a bilingual dictionary and inspired by the power of love, he mustered his courage and did what he had to do.
"The dinner lasted over two hours. I was really nervous so much so that I could feel myself trembling," Everett said, adding that whenever he struggled to express himself properly or understand his future father-in-law, he would stop, make a note, and then look up the Chinese in his dictionary. It was a slow and tiresome process, but it worked. Her father agreed, and Everett and Chen Shuang tied the knot on December 26, 2009.
Everett invited 10 family members from the U.S. to come and take part in the wedding ceremony. The Wuhan-style wedding was unlike anything they had ever taken part in.
In accordance with advice provided by some of his Chinese friends, Everett filled his pockets with both Chinese and American money. He figured he would need it when it came time to collect his bride; he was right. To get through the front door at his wife's house and get in to see his bride, he had to give away almost all of the money he had and answer a myriad of questions. He also had to play a game which involved finding his wife's shoes. Afterwards, he picked up his bride and carried her down four flights of stairs. From there, they made their way to the ceremony.
During the ceremony, Everett, together with his father-in-law, used a paintbrush to write the Chinese character "家" (jiā, family); this was meant to demonstrate his commitment to love and family.
Life beyond borders,
love beyond words
For Everett, being a teacher is not just a desk job. It's hectic and is often challenging, but it is also a lot of fun. "Working here in Wuhan, I encounter new surprises every day; I don't know if that would be the case elsewhere." He said that he was always curious about life beyond the borders of his country. Now he lives a life without borders, and he loves it.
This American man has lived in Wuhan for ten years, taught around 2,000 Chinese kids, married a beautiful Chinese woman, and started a family. His daughter is four years old now.
Everett said that when he first came to Wuhan, his life was confined to a small area around Hongshan Square in Wuchang. "I had everything I needed right there, so that gave me an excuse to avoid venturing out into other parts of the city." As time went on and things changed, Everett eventually found his inner adventurer. He began to explore local destinations, such as dining spots like Xuesong Road and Hubu Alley and shopping areas like Jianghan Road. He also started traveling around China; in his time here, he has been just about everywhere.
Everett enjoys taking part in local events here in Wuhan. "I remember being invited to take part in a calligraphy performance associated with the Home in Wuhan project." He said that because he was proficient in Chinese and familiar with Chinese culture, he demonstrated his abilities by writing the characters "家在武汉" (jiā zài wǔ hàn, Home in Wuhan) in front of a crowd of onlookers at Wuhan Citizens' Home.
As a local educator, the husband of a local woman, and the father to a young girl being raised as a local, Everett considers Wuhan his home. Currently, Everett works as an English teacher at Wuhan Giraffe English Training Center. While he is unsure where life will take him in the future, there are a few things of which he is sure. He said, "I may be a foreigner, but I have a Chinese heart. My love for Wuhan is beyond these simple words."
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