By HUI JIA
SHANGHAI (China Daily Show) – A foreign traveler who arrived in Shanghai two years ago, hoping to tap his latent potential, spoke yesterday of the brutal realization that he was, in fact, almost entirely without talent.
“As it happens, just going to a country which is in the limelight doesn’t make you special,” William “Bill” Hudson told China Daily Show. “Turns out, I’m actually kind of a waste of space.”
Hudson reluctantly concluded that he possessed absolutely no potential whatsoever at approximately 8:30 on Saturday morning, after a set of shelves, erected only minutes before, collapsed – smashing an entire collection of jade Zodiac symbols Hudson had spent months sourcing from various antique markets in Yunnan Province.
As Hudson discussed his pain at coming to terms with mediocrity, friends said the realization was only a matter of time after a string of failed endeavors.
“Bill first moved to Guangxi Province to work as an ESL teacher and, while the profession does play host to some very interesting and professional foreigners, Bill was not one of them,” Yangshuo English Corner legend Michael Watson recalled with a sympathetic smile.
“He didn’t know what he was doing and just sort of read from textbooks aloud,” Watson said, adding, “Didn’t really matter though; the parents loved his pale, febrile skin.”
Meanwhile, Hudson said he spent many days dreamily cycling and hiking through Guangxi’s beautiful landscape of karst trails and tranquil waters.
Despite bringing a notebook and paint set on his travels, however, Hudson’s muse yielded nothing more interesting than a series of insipid watercolors, along with banal written observations on Chinese society, that even Hudson admits to being “sophomoric, at best.”
The latter screeds, published in a now-discontinued WordPress blog, caught the attention of Beijing Normal University literary expert Kang Ma, who shared Hudson’s unqualified musings on politics, education and food hygiene with his 2.3 million Weibo followers.
The resulting torrent of acrimony forced Hudson to abandon any further literary ambitions and, instead, attempt to go into business.
Hudson tried his hand at translation services, IT work and venture capitalism – yet failed to make a single fen.
Many expats suffer “potential shortage,” says Beijing-based life coach Atkins Peiterman.
Maria Chung, originally from Manhattan, came to China in 2002 already speaking fluent Chinese, but now works as a “freelance marketer and style journalist” in Dalian. Yesterday she declined to give China Daily Show details of any recent commissions or published articles.
In fact, Peiterman estimates, around 60 to 70 percent of foreigners working in China have absolutely no potential or unrecognized talent whatsoever.
“People like Mr Hudson often can’t seem to figure out that, despite their ability to pick themselves up and boldly move to another country like China, they are still just as pointless here as they were back home,” Peiterman noted. “Bill seems to have just twigged this. That’s good – it won’t aid his job prospects in the slightest, but at least he knows that now.”
Hudson, and others like him, can face an uncertain future in China, even after years of solid classroom experience – but experts say most will likely still remain in search of a a breakthrough.
“I’ll probably stick around a few more years,” said Hudson. “Maybe a decade. Just to be sure.”