China / My Chinese Dream

62-year-old American man applies to become a 'Xicheng Dama'

( Updated: 2017-08-21 16:24

Gao Tianrui, a 62-year-old American man, has become an internet celebrity after creating a video to apply to become a "Xicheng Dama".

"Xicheng Dama" refers to a group of volunteers who roam Xicheng District in central Beijing acting as public security volunteers. 70% of them are female aged 58 to 65.

He's lived in Beijing for 22 years, but first arrived in Taiwan from the US to learn the language in 1973.

"I'm more than interested in China and Chinese language," said Gao, "I love China's traditional Taoism culture."

His Chinese name was given to him by the captain of the ship he took to Taiwan. His English name is Terry Crossman.

Majoring in the Chinese language and culture studies in university, Gao would move back to the United States, working in New York after graduation.

He was eventually transferred by his company to work in Hong Kong.

"During the 12 years in Hong Kong, I learned how to speak Cantonese and had two children with my wife from Singapore," said Gao.

Gao Tianrui was then transferred to his company's Beijing office in 1995.

However, Gao now finds himself in a bind, as his office in Beijing has now shut down, and he would prefer to remain in Beijing.

"I'm acquainted with many foreigners here," said Gao. "Sometimes I go to the pub with my buddies and listen to blues."

Now divorced and without a house in Beijing, Gao has been staying on a student visa, which will expire on September 8, 2017.

"I've already received offers from some companies, yet we haven't signed a contract," said Gao. "It's regrettable that there isn't a retiree's visa in China. As for whether I can stay in Beijing, let it be."

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