WWAM of the Month: Jo Bai

If you asked me to name some of the most influential and inspiring bloggers I’ve met in China, I’d count Jo Bai among them. She’s the voice behind the popular blog Life Behind the Wall, where she’s written about everything from Chinese culture and dating to things China newbies do incorrectly. But I also admire her for her entrepreneurial spirit (she launched her own online clothing business Heilan Fashions) and willingness to take risks in the name of living out her dreams.

We sat down with Jo Bai to learn more about how she’s making great things happen in China, what it takes to make a WWAM relationship work, and more.

You wrote on your blog that your motto is “do not only dream it, do it.” How are you living the dream in China?

Well, in China you kind of have no choice but to live your dream because it is kind of a survival of the fittest here. I have lived my dream first by actually moving to China. I have always wanted to be here. Secondly I married a wonderful and loving man. And thirdly, I started my own clothing business online, Heilan Fashions. I also think I have accomplished many things I never dreamed of, like meeting people from all over the world and seeing so many amazing sights.

What do you think are some of the greatest challenges of living in China?

Oh, I think staying positive is the greatest challenge. There are so many things that can happen unexpectedly here with visa regulation changes, and company changes, and even relationship changes. It can be a big emotional ride. I am getting older and so lately my challenge has been dealing with how I will retire in the future.

This year you became the headmaster of an international school. How has that been for you?

Whew, that has been a bit of a challenge in itself. But I think I have been handling it like a professional. It is difficult dealing with the mindset of Chinese leaders, when you are the only foreign leader in the group. But I think I am successful.

What does it take to deal with Chinese leaders?

To deal with Chinese leaders you have to really understand the concept of face. You have to know how to get your ideas and points across without offending them. You have to be humble in front of them and you have to be open to change.

You’re currently married to a guy from Jiangsu Province, but you also went through a divorce a couple of years ago after a previous marriage to another Chinese man. After your experience, what do you think is important for making a WWAM relationship work?

This is a good question. I have found that getting along with the family is very important. They have a lot of influence in the lives of Chinese men, especially the oldest or only child. They have this need to put family first. I also think communication is especially important since there are so many cultural differences and these small things must be overcame.

Many of us knew you first through your popular blog Life Behind the Wall, where you’ve been writing since 2010. How have you been able to stay motivated and continue to write thought-provoking posts over the years?

I think I have spirits of greatness, ha! There was a while when I went kind of stale and couldn’t think of anything to write that people would think was interesting. My life was uneventful so I really had nothing to say and I was totally slammed with work so my time was limited. Lately, I have been having more time and I have been noticing things that have been things that aggravate me or people ask me. So I have been motivated. But if I was to advise someone on how to keep your blog interesting, think of things people want to know and think of things that happen to you. No matter how small it may be to you, it may be helpful to someone else.

A huge thank you to Jo Bai for this interview! You can follow her blog at http://www.lifebehindthewall.wordpress.com. If you would like to shop her online clothing store Heilan Fashions on WeChat, please scan the QR code below:

Are you a part of the WWAM (Western women & Asian men) community? Would you like to be featured as our WWAM of the month? We’re always on the lookout for outstanding women and men to feature in this column. If you’d like us to spotlight you through an interview, send us an e-mail at contact@wwambam.com

Jocelyn Eikenburg
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