On March 20th, as HUST held its campus marathon, a lady broadcasting this event attracted the world’s attention. Celia Esquivel Salguero, HUST’s alumnus from Guatemala, is a prominent influencer on Facebook. After following her husband to Wuhan, the young lady studied for her Bachelor’s Degree at the Department of Chinese Language and Literature at HUST and then furthered her study with an MBA. This year marks Celia’s 10th year of living in Wuhan. Just like native Wuhan people, she loves hot dry noodles and playing mahjong, and is currently learning the Wuhan dialect with her son.
Celia broadcasting from the Campus marathon at HUST last Sunday
When the pandemic hit Wuhan in 2020, Celia, enraged by the false news about Wuhan in Western media, began to record Wuhan’s efforts against the virus through pictures and videos, and posted them to Facebook, Instagram and YouTube where her content gained wide attention from international netizens.
Celia originally fell in love with her husband in Guatemala where they were married. After their marriage, they returned to Wuhan, her husband’s hometown.
“I have a deep affection for HUST, partly because both my husband’s father and uncle graduated from the school,” said Celia, “I began to learn Chinese at HUST from September, 2011. One year later, I passed HSK-4 with high scores, and applied for a scholarship provided by the Confucius Institute to continue my Chinese study at the school.” Two years later, Celia was admitted to the Department of Chinese Language and Literature of HUST as an undergraduate. Following her graduation, she majored in business administration for a master's degree.
Over a decade of life in Wuhan has made Celia an expert in Chinese culture. She has learned to play Chinese traditional instruments like the Chinese zither and pipa. Wuhan cuisine became her favorite, too, with hot dry noodles, Doupi (a pan-fried delicacy of glutinous rice and minced meat), and locus root soup being particular favorites. Besides, learning the Wuhan dialect with her two-year-old son has become part of Celia’s daily routine.
When COVID-19 struck Wuhan in earlier 2020, Celia’s family urged her to return home, but she chose to stay, explaining to them that “I have been in Wuhan for a decade. This city accepts me, helps me and delights me. I can’t leave Wuhan at its toughest time.”
Celia broadcasting Wuhan’s reopening on April 8th, 2020.
During the pandemic, she was displeased to find misinformation and rumors on international social networking platforms released by select media. “What was described in the news was the total opposite of what I had seen in Wuhan. I was angry about it. Therefore, I started to do a live stream via social media to present the real Wuhan.”
On her social platform, Celia shared her family’s life during the lockdown in Spanish, such as how they bought life’s necessities and how the community managed, and updated its citizens about the latest infection data.
Her live stream about HUST’s campus received 120,000 views
Gradually, CNN and other media outlets approached Celia, requesting her to share her footage showing the reality of Wuhan life via her live streaming, photos and videos. After that, the number of Celia’s followers soared, with her audience being predominantly Latin American, European and American. “Many of my fans commented about how much they have been impressed by China’s achievements in controlling the virus. See? This is the best way to debunk rumors.”
Celia publicizing the poverty alleviation achievements of Guangxi province with her son
Once life returned to normal in Wuhan, netizens continued to show interest in Celia’s daily life. As a result, she continues to live stream, in which she presents her day to day life in Wuhan further exploring the Chinese culture and her passion for it.
Celia has made live streams about Wuhan’s unique breakfast culture, and some others about shopping at Jianghan Road’s night market or going to the hospital. This March, Celia returned to HUST for a campus live-streaming. Walking along from the School of International Education to Wutongyu Academic Exchange Center, she warmly introduced Chinese students’ daily life and also presented dishes available in the canteens to her fans. When asked whether western food was available on the campus, she introduced her followers to the McDonalds at HUST, which was the first to open at a Chinese university.
“After this live-stream, I was asked by many of my followers how they could apply to HUST. Some even ask me to introduce them to Wuhan boyfriends.” Celia said with a smile.
The most frequent comments within Celia’s broadcasts are, “This is what China truly is”, “I didn’t expect China to be so amazing”, “This is totally different from what is described in the media”. It is these comments that encourage Celia to continue to share her life in China.
“They are mostly surprised by the safety in China.” Celia remembers that one night, after watching a movie with her husband, it was one o'clock in the morning. On her way home, she started to broadcast Wuhan late at night. “Many people asked me if I was afraid to be outside at that time as my phone might be stolen. I just told them that it’s very safe in Wuhan, even late at night.”
Now, Celia’s Facebook account “Chapina en China”, which means Guatemalan girl in China, has approximately 180 thousand followers with her live streams continuing to receive views as high as 2 million.
Throughout her 10 years in Wuhan, Celia has witnessed the tremendous growth of the city. “When I first came here, there was only one or two subways, but today Wuhan boasts a systematic subway network. This is a growing city, full of hope. I’m delighted to live here and I will continue to show the world the true and diverse Wuhan I know and make more people love it and China.”
Written by: Ye Jingyi
Edited by: He Rong, Andrew, Peng Yumeng
Source: Changjiang Daily