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  • Lise

From factory girl to writer and journalist: Meet my mentor

I got some great news this week! I had signed up for the VIVA Beijing mentorship program. Viva is a Beijing based network for professional women. They organise very interesting events and run a 6-month mentorship programme every year. I have just learnt that I was lucky enough to be paired with my number one choice: writer, journalist and public speaker Lijia Zhang.

I first met Lijia when she invited me to be her "+1" at the Irish-Chinese film dialogue in April last year after our common friend Richard had introduced us on WeChat.

I was fascinated by Lijia's story and I believe I spent almost the entire time at that event following her around and bombarding her with questions. Apologies for that, Lijia!

But how can one not love her story? Lijia worked in a Nanjing rocket factory in the 80's and to escape from the routine, she started teaching herself English, became politically active and finally became a writer and journalist. Her memoir "Socialism is great" was published in 2009 and her first novel "Lotus" came out in 2017.

Lijia has taken self-reinvention to another level. She has broken out of routine and social heritage and here she is. The woman who, until the age of 23 didn't speak a word of English - now a respected author and journalist (with a British accent).

I am very excited to call Lijia my mentor and hopefully we will both learn something from each other.

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