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American in Beijing lives his Chinese dream

Xinhua/chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2017-08-31 08:54


Terry Crossman patrols streets in Beijing's Xicheng district as a public security volunteer.[Photo/VCG]


Terry Crossman has spent 20 years in the city he now calls home

Wearing his bright red armband and speaking fluent Mandarin, from a distance 62-year-old Gao Tianrui could be taken for any regular Chinese man.

But on closer inspection, things are not quite what they seem: Gao's real name is Terry and he is from the United States. Having lived in Beijing for more than 20 years, Terry Crossman has finally fulfilled his Chinese dream: becoming a public security volunteer. Life as a "Xicheng Dama" has even made him an online celebrity.

Xicheng Dama are volunteers, usually women in late middle-age, who roam the streets of downtown Beijing's Xicheng district. And now Crossman has joined their club.

In video footage that recently went viral, Crossman said that he initially saw the group as busybodies, but his opinion changed once he was on the inside.

"Gradually I saw that it is a good thing for retired seniors to come out and help others," he said.

In the footage, he is seen giving tourists directions, getting water for a baby and even helping a neighbor sell yogurt.

"I like helping others," he said. "I live in the hutong and my neighbors and I usually help each other ... This is where I live, where my friends are and where I call home."

Crossman became interested in Chinese culture as a teenager when he read the Tao Te Ching by Laozi.

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