Posted by Kelley Chan

Yes, there is a “Lao Wei” (老卫) in Shenzhen. Lao wai (老外) means “foreigner” in Chinese. In Germany, he is called Dr. Wessling, but in China he is a lao wai and by accident is somewhat similarly named “Lao Wei”, because his Chinese name is 卫斯林 (Wei Si Lin), but everyone here calls him Lao Wei in a friendly way.

To save and later grow the business he started in China in 2001, Lao Wei decided to come here around 6 years ago. With his ear to the ground and eyes open, Lao Wei has experienced work and life in China in the past 6 years, with most of the time in southern China. Although he lives in Shenzhen, Lao Wei travels a lot around China.

Things in a new world can look different and lack meaning. What a big difference between the real China and the descriptions in Western books or media. Lao Wei even got emotional when he talked about the books he read about China before he came. The topics in the books that still impress him are “Guidelines: Do’s and Don’ts in China”, “Grandma and her Purple Sofa” and “Handbook for Doing Business in China”. These books all portray a stereotypical image of China, that people still have conservative way of thinking and living, as China is not developed.

Lao Wei nearly shouted, “No, it’s not the case!” Without any prejudice, he decided to write about his real experiences to tell the difference also with the photos he took all these years. The book is “Here, I am LaoWei”.

Working nearly 16 hours per weekday and travelling 4 to 5 days a week, Lao Wei relaxes as a photographer and a goalkeeper on the weekend in order to keep balanced. As a photographer, Lao Wei walks with his camera and observes people’s life and nature. He encountered kingfishers and also Chinese photographers. As a goalkeeper, he plays football with young men who have a concept of life. All of these, not only help him get away from stress, but also contribute ideas for him to know more about the Chinese and China. Back at work, as a scientist and consultant, Lao Wei can handle business well as he is truly trying to be a part of China and he widely got respected already.

Be forewarned, do not read this book before you go to sleep if you don’t want to have trouble waking up in time for work in the morning.

Lao Wei said that he is a lucky man with what he has experienced and if full of appreciation, but he also added “Keep your eyes open to see everything that you don’t expect, it is not just all luck.”

Read more about the book here: http://bernhard-wessling.net