"The more understanding we have for each other, the closer our hearts will be."

By Wang Xuefeng Ambassador of People’s Republic of China ,

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The Chinese translation of The Samoa Observer Tusitala Short Story Competition’s book, “Our Heritage, the Ocean” was launched yesterday.

The Chinese translation of The Samoa Observer Tusitala Short Story Competition’s book, “Our Heritage, the Ocean” was launched yesterday. The book was the result of the hard work of China’s Ambassador to Samoa, Wang Xuefeng, and his good lady, Madam Tong Xin. This is what he said: 


Today, my wife and I are thrilled to be at the Headquarters of Samoa Observer at Vaitele for the launching of the Chinese version of the book Our Heritage, the Ocean.

I remembered, last year in April, also here at this place, we attended the Launching Ceremony of Our Heritage, the Ocean. I remembered that my wife and I decided on the spot that we would translate this book into Chinese even before we read the book. We told people right away about our decision to translate the book at the launching ceremony. 

Then we knew we could not back out because so many people already knew. A promise is a promise. In fact, it was not a spur-of-the-moment decision, we simply believe that the book which voiced the authentic and diverse Pasefika stories of ordinary people today written by the people of this region is definitely worth being translated into Chinese so that it will boast billions of readers in China. 

We also strongly believe this would be a great opportunity for Chinese readers to get to know more about the life of the people who live thousands of miles away in the South Pacific region. 

Almost one year later, the Chinese version of the book came into being. It was published by China Youth Press, one of the top publishers in China. 

We are so happy to see the book in real finally even though we have been expecting it all the time during this one year. It is the outcome of the joint efforts of people of many sides, in particular, the precious cooperation between Samoa Observer and Chinese Embassy. Without the ground-breaking effort of Samoa Observer in initiating and organizing the Samoa Observer Tusitala Short Story Competition in the first place, there would be no Our Heritage, the Ocean. 

And without Our Heritage, the Ocean, there would be definitely no Chinese version of it at all. Therefore, on behalf of Chinese Embassy, I would like to take this opportunity to express our sincere thanks to Mr. Savea Sano Malifa and your Good lady, Madame Muliaga Jean Malifa, publisher of Samoa Observer for your brilliant initiative and all your hard work together with your team in organizing the writing competition and in publishing Our Heritage, the Ocean as well as your precious and kind support in the process in publishing the Chinese version of the book.

 I would also like to express our thanks to the New Zealand High Commission for their support in the publication of Our Heritage, the Ocean last year. 

I want to thank the all judges and editors and designers for your hard work in selecting the stories, editing and proofreading the book. My wife and I especially want to thank Madame Marjorie Moore and Madame Stephanie Wynne who have provided us with precious suggestions and insightful interpretations of the book many times during our translation. And last but not the least, I would like to thank all the authors for sharing the wonderful stories with us through your wonderful writing skills. 

Although the connection between China and Samoa started more than 100 years ago and there are one-sixth of population here with Chinese blood, it is hard to say that our two peoples know each other so well, especially with the long long distance and vast ocean in between. 

With internet, it might be extremely easy for people to get to know about the information of a country no matter in what corner of the world it is, but it is not so easy to get to know about the life of the people of other countries even though you could live among them for a while.

Reading the authentic and diverse stories of ordinary people today written by the people of this region themselves is a shortcut to walk into the life and into heart of people and immediately you feel that your heart is drawing closer and closer to them as you read the stories one by one.

A LABOUR OF LOVE: Madam Tong Xin and China's Ambassador to Samoa, Wang Xuefeng with the book. Photo: Misiona Simo.
A LABOUR OF LOVE: Madam Tong Xin and China's Ambassador to Samoa, Wang Xuefeng with the book. Photo: Misiona Simo.

Because of our full-time work load in the Embassy every day, my wife and I had to do the translation in our spare time. We totally enjoyed it despite of the tedious work of choosing the right words for the right expression during the process of translation and numerous times of proofreading for any possible mistakes. We feel that the process of our translation is like taking a journey into history as well as in reality.

It is also a spiritual journey into the heart of people where we experience all kinds of feelings --- love, joy, happiness, disappointment, loss, sadness, misery, hatred, etc.--- together with them, and at the same time, feel the echo of all these feelings in our heart. When we finally finished the translation, we were really happy that we got to understand so much more about the history and culture of this region, but meanwhile we were also so clearly aware how little knowledge we had about the long history and the profound culture of this region.

Nevertheless, with our limited knowledge and understanding of the history and culture of this region, we still put our whole heart into the publication of the Chinese version of this book. We discussed numerous times with the executive editor and the art editor of the book from China Youth Press through emails, telephone calls, and even face to face when I had chance to go back to China for a meeting. 

We wanted the design of the book to be in good tune with the implications of the Polynesian culture. We suggested the use of typical Polynesian patterns as the background of the book cover as well as of the pages for the authors’ introduction.

We are also extremely happy that we invited our son who is currently studying conceptual design in New York State University to do the design of the book cover. He came to visit us last July and was very attracted by the beauty and charm of Samoa even though he stayed for a short period of time. 

The beautiful blue sea, the clear blue sky, the white clouds and white sandy beach and the typical Samoan fale may be his brief impression of beautiful Samoa, but more importantly, he was overwhelmed by the hospitality of Samoan people and long-standing friendship between China and Samoa.        

Therefore, I also would like to take this opportunity to express congratulations to my son, Wang Ange, for his brilliant talent as displayed in the wonderful design of the book cover. 

After the publication of the Chinese version of the book, we presented the books to some of our colleagues and friends in China. We also donated the books to the libraries of schools and universities and research centers of South Pacific island countries in China, and we will continue to do so when we go back to China after we finish our tenure here in Samoa. China Youth Press has also arranged for the book to be available on the three major online bookstores as well as in traditional entity bookstores in major cities in China. We hope more and more Chinese readers will read the book as soon as possible.

We are glad to know the feedback from some of our friends who are diligent enough to have already finished reading the book. One of our friends said: “I have read the book several times because it is really a very attractive book. Even though we are tens of thousands of miles away from Samoa, the stories are amazingly familiar to us. They sound like stories of people just around us in our own life. Literary works know no boundary, indeed. They are forever touching and inspiring.” 

One  researcher from South Pacific Island Countries Research Center in China said, “We had to admit that we do not have much in-depth understanding of Pacific island countries even though we seem to have published many articles in this field. This book provides us a different perspective in understanding history, culture, people of this region and we feel much closer to people in these countries which are in fact so far away from us geographically. ”

Indeed, rooted in the rich soil of Polynesian culture, the South Pacific literature boasts its special features which are very attractive to readers. Chinese Embassy would like to continue to cooperate with Samoa Observer and push forward the collaboration in the field of literary research and translation of works as well as in other forms and areas so as to further strengthen the understanding of our two peoples and long-lasting friendship between our two countries.  

 


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