If I were ask you to name who would be the most famous foreigner in the People’s Republic of China, could you answer it? Before I ever visited China, I would have thought it was somebody like Celine Dion (I arrived in China a year after Titanic and “love theme” took China by storm) or some famous Hollywood actor.
Well, the most famous foreigner in China is a Canadian. It is no other than Dashan. Who? Yeah, exactly.
When I was teaching in China, I had asked who the most famous Canadian they knew was. They kept repeating the name “Dashan.” I was puzzled by the name. I had never heard of this name. It sounded like the basic Chinese characters for Great/Big and “Mountain.” I wrote those two characters on the board. I asked the class is this the name they were saying. The answer was a resounding yes.
I later found out his actual name was Mark Roswell. He grew up in Ontario and had studied Chinese in Beijing in the 1980s. He was invited one time to do a show on national television in which he was fluent in both English and Mandarin helped to give him great exposure. He eventually became a mainstay on Central Chinese Television (CCTV) doing comedy and variety shows. One of my friends in China lent me Dashanès educational VCD series introducing Canada using English and Mandarin.
Dashan has been named the Canadian Olympic Team Attache for the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Dashan will help the Canadian Olympic Committee connect with local groups in Beijing. He will also be assisting the Canadian team prepare for the cultural experience that awaits them in China.
Dashan has made a great name for himself as a performer in China. Maybe one day he could become more famous here at home. I think he could produce a show in Canada featuring China and its culture. In fact, I was surprised to learn that he actually lives in Canada most of the time now and flies back and forth between here and China for his TV stints.
Here is a video feature Dashan as the Canadian Olympic Team Attache: