|Gensini Chiara travels across China with her husband and daughters.|
"When people asked me, 'Have you had your meal,' I would answer what I ate for breakfast, lunch or supper. At that time, I didn't have a deep understanding of the Chinese language, and I didn't know it was a way for Chinese to say hello to each other," Chiara says, with a laugh.
Having forged a deep bond with China, Chiara decided to stay in Beijing after she finished her studies at BLCU. She found a job at an Italian company's representative office in Beijing.
"I met my husband … at the office in 2005, after he was transferred from the headquarters in Italy to work in Beijing. We worked together, and gradually had a crush on each other. Beijing is my lucky place. It witnesses our love story," she says.
|Gensini Chiara poses for a photo with her husband and three daughters dressed in traditional costumes of China's Miao ethnic group.|
Daughters Are 'Beijingers'
"All of my daughters were born in Beijing. They are Beijingers," Chiara says, proudly. In 2017, she took her first daughter, Alice, then 9, to attend the welcome banquet for the first Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation. Alice sang with children from other countries during the banquet's entertainment.
Two years later, her second daughter, Emma, then 7, attended the welcome banquet for the second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation. Her third daughter, Mati, says she is looking forward to attending the welcome banquet for the third forum.
"I told my daughters that, as an adult, I found it difficult to learn Chinese. As they began learning at a very young age, they can now speak Chinese as a native speaker,"Chiara says.
She adds the first words Emma spoke were the Chinese words he nai (drinking milk). Chiara used to employ a nanny, from North China's Shanxi Province, to help take care of Mati. The nanny liked using vinegar when she cooked, which is the habit of many people from Shanxi. So, Mati developed the habit of adding some vinegar to her meals.
The three girls attend Fangcaodi International School, in Beijing's Chaoyang District. They say they have great fun at school, where they enjoy learning and participating in various activities.
"I tell my children they should not lie or talk dirty, and that they must learn to respect the others. In return, the others will respect them," Chiara says. She has received the Good Parent award issued by Chaoyang Education Committee. The award was in recognition of her proactive role in educating her daughters.
|Gensini Chiara and her family members celebrate Christmas in China.|
Loving Chinese Culture
"We like Beijing cuisine and snacks, such as roast duck, dumplings and noodles with soybean paste. We feel happy living in Beijing, and we love China," Chiara says.
When the family celebrates Christmas in China, they love to wear traditional Chinese costumes, of different ethnic groups, when they pose for family photos.
During this year's Chinese Lunar New Year holiday, Chiara's family held a party, with the family of her Beijing friend, Kang Xin. They had a lot of fun cooking together. Kang's family made dumplings with fennel as the filling, which is the traditional flavor of dumplings loved by Beijing residents. Chiara and her daughters made dumplings with spinach and cheese as fillings. They also made pizza, using chili oil of the famous Chinese brand, Laoganma.
Chiara's family likes traveling. They have visited numerous places in China. "Many of my Chinese friends haven't visited as many places as we have," Chiara says.
"As I have lived in Beijing for nearly 20 years, I am not really used to the life in Italy when I go back there," Chiara says. For example, once, in Italy, when she arrived at a supermarket checkout, she realized that she didn't bring her wallet. "I only took my cell phone. But in Italy, we can't use Alipay or WeChat payment," she explains.
As many Italians don't know much about China, Chiara often shares her China-related stories and experiences with her friends and family members in Italy. She enjoys explaining what her life is like in Beijing.
"I always like to invite my friends and family members in Italy to visit China. My mother-in-law used to visit Beijing, and she also fell in love with China's foods and beautiful scenery. We love to do our part to promote friendship between people from the two countries," Chiara says.
|Gensini Chiara's second daughter, Emma, attends the welcoming banquet for the second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation on April 26, 2019.|
Photo supplied by Gensini Chiara
(Women of China English Monthly September 2020 issue)
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