Yankee girl with Chinese flavour
(ZHANG QIAN)
China Daily, 07/19/2001

Copied from: http://www1.chinadaily.com.cn/cndy/2001-07-19/21104.html

SHANGHAI: Charlotte MacInnis has grown up suddenly from a naive 20-year-old student into a depressed middle-aged woman hovering on the edge of suicide.
Acting as Julia in Dario Fo's play "An Ordinary Day," Charlotte, a graduate of the Theatre Department of Columbia University, is performing in both the Chinese and English versions.
For her, there is no language barrier because she was raised in Nanjing, and can speak Chinese almost as fluently as her native tongue - English.
Charlotte, who came to China with her parents in 1988 at the age of 7, regards China as her home.
She still remembers those first days of school in Nanjing when she understood only a few words of Chinese. "I was so shy and helpless that I stayed away from my Chinese peers," she recalled, "just then, a boy came over with a comic book, and invited me to read it with him. Suddenly my alienation disappeared and a feeling of closeness with the Chinese began to take root."
With parents who both loved China, Charlotte was naturally attracted to Chinese culture even in her childhood, when she learned the Chinese version of "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star."
In Connecticut where she was born, her family seemed strange to the local residents because they kept some Chinese traditions like using chopsticks, celebrating Chinese Spring Festival and making dumplings (jiaozi).
But to the family, all these practices were very natural because Peter MacInnis, Charlotte's father, was actually born in China in 1948, where his parents were teachers of English.
"My father loved China so much that he was attracted to and married my mother partly because she had studied Chinese language and culture at university," she said.
Perhaps that's why her father moved the family to Nanjing when he was already in his middle years.
From 1988 to 1995, she lived in Nanjing, attending a local school with the Chinese children and merged into Chinese society.
Except for her Western appearance, she was a 100-per-cent Chinese girl.

In 1995, she moved to Beijing with her parents where she lived for a further three years.
In 1998, Charlotte was admitted into the Theatre Department at Columbia University where she had an identity crisis at first and was nicknamed the "weird white Chinese girl."
"That was because I don't have American values," she commented, "I treasure very much Chinese traditions and appear a little bit reserved in the eyes of Americans."
For instance, Charlotte said that, unlike American girls who often change boy friends, she is reluctant to do so.
And in her eyes, Chinese boys are more considerate and dependable.
What attracts Charlotte most is the idea of community. "While Americans focus on individuality," she said, "Chinese are more concerned with the community."
She recalled an example from her childhood. Once, many of her classmates got the flu, and their teacher visited the home of every student.
"This simply wouldn't happen in the United States," she said.
Actually this is not her first time to play on stage in Chinese. Since 1991, she has been active in stage performances and television programmes in China, such as CCTV's "Outlook English Magazine" and "Laughing Teahouse." In 1998, she was chosen to play a supporting role in Beijing TV's series "Jia He Wan Shi Xing" (In a Harmonious Family, All Goes Well) and in 2000, she landed a leading role in the upcoming television series "Lethal Premonition."
She also studied Chinese musical instruments such as the xun and xiao in her childhood and performed on stage and TV.
Every summer, she returns to China to spend her vacation, the same thing this summer.
"To me, China is my ancestral home, because my name is Ai Hua, which means 'loving China'," she said proudly.

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See also: Comic drama sows tragic seeds
copied from China Daily: http://www1.chinadaily.com.cn/cndy/2001-07-19/21102.html