My Life

My mentors, Idols and people I look up to

mentorsMentors push you to fly

In life, career and learning Chinese, there are people who I look up to. These people probably don’t know it, but they have helped me to improve my Chinese and reach for my dreams. I hope everyone could have people like these in their lives to mentor and inspire them.

Today I want to introduce four people to you who have been important to me in different ways.

1. I met Rauno through his girlfriend at the time a few years ago. He is the most hardworking student I know and his passion for the Chinese language is probably even greater than mine. He writes a blog in Finnish and whenever I feel a lack of motivation I read his posts and be in awe how diligent he is. Recently he has started to write China related articles for magazines and is planning to translate a Chinese book into Finnish. Rauno was my first Chinese language role model and I still admire him a lot.

2. After moving to China and getting my feet wet in the China blog community, I found a new blog called Hacking Chinese. Behind the blog is Olle who like Rauno is a hardworking student that has a great knowledge of Chinese. Olle is studying a master’s in Teaching Chinese, so we are on the same field. I also hope to start my master’s next year. Olle’s blog posts are thoroughly written and helpful.

3. Blogging also allowed me to find Jocelyn who writes Speaking of China. Through her blog I found this warm community of Western women in love with Chinese men. Her blog posts always gets many comments and discussion, so I look up to her as a great blogger. At the moment she is writing her memoir which I’m eagerly waiting for. I have a dream to write a book too in the future, hoping to follow Jocelyn’s lead.

4. The person who have influenced me the most recently is Teacher Meng. She is such a passionate person and a great Chinese teacher. Just talking with her for five minutes will make you feel like you can do anything. She recruited me as a teacher almost the moment she saw me and I’ve held two lectures already, on how to teach Chinese to us foreigners. She is a teacher at the Sun Yat-Sen University, but she also works at the language center. She and the boss have such an amazing ideas to improve the field of teaching Chinese and I’m honored to be a part of it.

Having mentors, role models or idols can make you a better person, to strive for progress. They will show you the way when you feel lost or unmotivated. Who are your mentors and why?


  • Chris_Waugh

    My language teachers – high school and university French, German and Russian teachers and my Chinese teacher in Beijing.

    Also, last winter I took a two-week course in Teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language. That was pretty scary at first because although there was one Singaporean in my class, he was Singaporean Chinese, everybody else was Mainland Chinese, so there’s me the only one for whom Chinese was not his native language… But the Chinese culture teacher, Xu Laoshi, was amazing, warm and friendly and amazingly erudite, as if he had the entirety of Chinese history, philosophy, legend, myth and archaeology stretching back 20,000 years or more stored in his head. And Li Laoshi, who took the lessons in classroom practice, didn’t cut me any slack at all, no, she made me work harder. She seemed to love having a real, live Western student of Chinese in the class, so she asked me for real world examples of the points she was trying to make and made me get up in front of the class and take part in exercises, and did all of that in a very friendly, encouraging way so I still felt safe despite the rather daunting circumstances (and my own natural introversion). I also found myself in a small, tight group of classmates. We always did our group work together, and they, like Li Laoshi, made sure I was up there in front of the class reporting our results just as much as anybody else.


    Sara Jaaksola Reply:

    That two-week course sounds really good, challenging, but excellent. It was a big advantage for your classmates and teachers to have you on board. Someone who has experienced learning Chinese himself, who really knows how it’s like.

    I hope to have that kind of learning environment if I can continue to master’s next year.


  • Ellen

    Yes, even the strongest people need a role model and boost in motivation from time to time. It is a great luck to have such people in life. Usually these role models are people with passion, who do their “job” with pleasure, hence are happy and full of energy.

    Definitely thumbs up for Meng Laoshi! :)


    Sara Jaaksola Reply:

    Absolutely Ellen, those four all have such a great passion for what they do, it’s so inspiring.


  • Jocelyn Eikenburg

    Sara, I’m really touched to be named in this post. Look forward to meeting up with you in person sometime when I move back to China!


    Sara Jaaksola Reply:

    I’m looking forward to it too!


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