How do you say “wow” in Chinese?
If you ever need shaming into keeping up with a New Years’ resolution, look no further than the example set by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
While many spend hours each day scrolling through Facebook, the 30-year-old billionaire has been busy running his company and learning Mandarin, something he chose as his “personal challenge” in 2010.
Zuckerberg impressed the crowd at Tsinghua University in Beijing on Wednesday when he participated in a 30-minute question-and-answer session entirely in Chinese.
“Wow, just wow,” one commenter wrote. “Speaking Chinese for an entire Q&A is already beyond mind-blowing. But then cracking jokes in Chinese and getting the whole room to erupt in laughter?? That’s seriously taking it to a whole new level!”
He later posted his Chinese-speaking debut to his Facebook page, drawing raves from some of his 30 million Facebook followers.
Video clips of Zuckerberg’s talk made big headlines in China and circulated widely on services such as WeChat. But some Chinese Internet users expressed frustration over all the ballyhoo concerning Zuckerberg — given that Facebook remains essentially invisible to anyone in mainland China who doesn’t use VPN software to scale the country’s so-called Great Firewall.
Several news accounts at the time said he took morning lessons at his kitchen table with a tutor. Zuckerberg’s wife, Priscilla Chan, whom he met at Harvard University and married in 2012, grew up in the United States as the daughter of immigrants and spoke Cantonese at home.
During the Q&A session, Zuckerberg said that language is the best way to understand another culture and that he wants to know more about the Chinese culture. And, he said, he loves the challenge of learning a tongue as difficult as Mandarin, a tonal language.
When asked about Facebook’s plans in China, Zuckerberg said the company already has a presence in the country, focused on helping Chinese companies grow in the international market through advertising on the social networking site. And, he said, he’s also looking to work with more Chinese cities to help them launch introductory pages on Facebook.
In July, Bloomberg News reported that Facebook signed a three-year lease last spring to rent more than 8,600 square feet of office space in Beijing’s central business district.
This week, Zuckerberg was named a board member of China’s top business school, Tsinghua University School of Economics and Management, the scene of the Q&A session.
Source: The New York Times, ABC News, LA Times