Chinese Husband and German Wife: Two Cultures, One Belief

June 17, 2012

By Wu Sijing, a Minghui correspondent from Germany

(Minghui.org) A young Chinese man married a beautiful and hardworking German girl. They now live in the beautiful city of Heidelberg, Germany with their two lovely children. Chen Yuan feels that the most fortunate part about his life is that both he and his wife, as well as his mother, mother-in-law, and father-in-law, practice Falun Gong. This ancient cultivation practice from China has made it possible for family members from two different cultural backgrounds to treat each other with tolerance, live together harmoniously, and help each other when one of them faces troubles. For Chen, this is more important than having material wealth.

Chen Yuan, in his early thirties, is originally from Beijing and works as a chef in the mediterranean restaurant of a four-star hotel in Heidelberg. He is the only Chinese among all the staff. He loves the job and feels happy when he sees the customers enjoying the dishes. In Germany, there are five levels in the culinary sector. After graduating from a technical school, one has to start from level 5, the lowest level as a chef. Chen graduated four years ago, and has already passed level 3. He skipped from level 5 directly to level 3, which is very rare among chefs. Chen not only puts his heart into cooking, but also treats people with honesty, and is punctual and responsible. His supervisor trusts him, and coworkers like to work with him.

图片说明:中国小伙子陈源(左二)和妻子卡罗琳娜(左三)、儿子约纳斯(左四)、女儿露西亚(右二)、岳父胡伯特(右一)、岳母埃迪特(右三)以及自己的母亲徐幼林(左一)在德国海德堡的家门口合影。

Left to right: Chen Yuan’s mother Xu Youlin, Chen Yuan, his wife Caroline, his son Jonas, his mother-in-law, Chen’s daughter Lucia, and his father-in-law. Photo taken in front of the their house in Heidelberg, Germany.

Chen Yuan lives with his wife Caroline, two children, his mother Xu Youlin, his father-in-law Hubert, his mother-in-law Eddet, and his parents-in-law’s younger son. For a family with three generations and two cultures and languages, avoiding friction is difficult. However, since all eight are cultivating Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance, and looking within when encountering conflicts, this sizable family lives harmoniously amidst difficult-to-deal-with issues.

Early Years Practicing Falun Gong

Chen first encountered Falun Gong in China in the mid-1990s when he was only 14 years old. “Back then, I felt that the content in Zhuan Falun was correct, and that the principles taught people how to be good. So I followed my mother and practiced,” Chen said.

After the persecution started in 1999, Chen’s thought was very simple—being a good person was not wrong. Although the open environment for practicing no longer existed, his faith in Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance held steadfast.

Chen came to Germany in 2000 to study after graduating from middle school. He met up with Falun Gong practitioners, resumed reading the Falun Gong books, and participated in activities opposing the persecution. He recalled, “In 2001, I went with Heidelberg practitioners to Frankfurt’s book fair. We had a booth there to clarify the facts about Falun Gong and the persecution. On the way back, I suddenly had a thought from the bottom of my heart: ‘I want to [truly] practice Falun Gong’.” From that moment, he truly started his path of cultivation.

Rescuing Chen’s Mother Out of China

Chen Yuan’s mother, Ms. Xu Youlin, was illegally arrested in late 2003, when she was passing out materials that clarified that facts about Falun Gong. She was later given an 18-month sentence and detained in Xinan Women’s Forced Labor Camp in Beijing. During that period, Chen Yuan, his wife’s family, and other German Falun Gong practitioners called on the German public to help rescue Ms. Xu. Many people signed a petition urging the German government to pressure the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to release Ms. Xu. The German government wrote in a letter to Falun Gong practitioners on November 30, 2004, “During the visit to China, the German chancellor raised the issue of Ms. Xu Youlin to the Chinese side.”

On December 26, 2004, Ms. Xu was released. Later, with the help of the German government, she left China, was reunited with her son, and settled in Heidelberg.

In the process of rescuing his mother, Chen Yuan matured. He was interviewed by Minghui when his mother was released, and said, “When exposing injustice, public awareness is very important. My mother is just one of hundreds of thousands of Falun Gong practitioners who have been arrested. Her release is a step towards justice. We call on everyone to help end the persecution of Falun Gong in China.”

Handling Conflicts

Being tolerant is not an easy thing when conflict occurs. Learning to be tolerant has been a process for Chen. “I have learned from Falun Gong that one has to be calm when encountering conflicts, no matter how agitated the other party is. One has to keep calm, not get angry and make the problem worse, and, at the same time, [look inside] to see if one has any problem,” he said.

Being together, it’s hard for Chen and his wife to avoid the differences in their ways of thinking and doing things. Caroline said, “We often had conflicts in the past. However, when I refrained from complaining about him, and instead looked at myself, I would always see my own problems. It is like what Master Li said, that even if you think you are right, you still need to look for your own problems. For example, you might have used a wrong tone of voice when speaking, you might be speaking with anger, or you might have neglected others’ feelings. In this way, I am able to find where I did not do well. This approach can bring harmony to a family and can also allow the other party to experience positive change. Even if there are differences between husband and wife, there won’t be conflicts.”

Falun Gong Improves Mother-Son Relationship

Ms. Xu talked about the harmonious mother-son relationship she and Chen share. “I am very satisfied. Looking at his happy family, I am very happy as well.” But it was not always this way. Before practicing Falun Gong, Ms. Xu had a totally different way of thinking, and their relationship was tense.

Similar to many people of the same age, Ms. Xu was not able to go college when she was young, due to the Cultural Revolution [Note: The Cultural Revolution was a Chinese Communist political movement denouncing traditional values and culture, 1966-1976]. When it started, she was in her first year of middle school, so she ended up missing out on education during those key years. Ms. Xu felt that not being able to attend college was the greatest regret in her life, so she put all her hopes on her son. Because she was eager to have him succeed, she made him study hard. She was very strict, often scolding and beating him, believing it was for the sake of her son. “I had so much ‘Party culture’ in myself, that I only saw his shortcomings and criticized him. I could not see his strengths, and even if I saw them, I wouldn’t praise him. I effectively wiped out his self-confidence,” said Ms. Xu.

When Ms. Xu began practicing Falun Gong, she became aware that educating children should not be done with anger. She also learned that one should follow the course of nature, that each person has his own fate, and that it was not possible for everyone to go to college. Realizing this, she no longer beat or cursed at her son, and changed her overbearing demeanor. She provided Chen a more relaxed environment, and their relationship improved.

Cultivation has made Ms. Xu realize her past mistakes and see her son’s strong points. “My son is a tolerant person and treats me with respect,” she said. “I’m apologetic for not having been nice to him, but he does not bear any grudges at all.”

German Daughter-in-Law and Chinese Mother-in-Law Overcome Barriers

Caroline, 32, has practiced Falun Gong for 14 years. Ms. Xu lives upstairs with her and her husband. Caroline can only speak a little Chinese, and her mother-in-law can only understand a small bit of German. A language barrier exists between two of them, and the same goes for their habits. Caroline said, “Sometimes I think, ‘How can she do things this way?’ I might feel uncomfortable in my heart. Yet when I realize that I should consider things from the perspectives of others—which means using a kind heart to think—it becomes easy to understand.”

She gave an example. One summer evening, when it was cool outside, her daughter was playing in the garden. When Caroline came out, she saw that her daughter was wearing pajamas. Caroline felt uncomfortable, because Germans never wear pajamas outside, even if it’s just in the garden of their own house. Looking at her daughter running outside in pajamas, her first thought was that it must have been her mother-in-law who allowed it. She was not pleased. “When I feel unhappy I ask myself, ‘What is it exactly that is making you unhappy?’” she said. When she thought from the perspective of her mother-in-law, she relaxed. “Chinese people have different habits. Some walk on the street in their nightclothes, and of course it’s natural for them to be even more relaxed in their own garden. I shouldn’t force German customs on others.”

Many trivial things like this happen in their daily lives. Although small, if they are not dealt with correctly, grudges will accumulate and cause conflicts. Both Ms. Xu and Caroline have treated each other with kindness, so there are not many knots left between the two.

Cultivating While Educating Her Son

Educating her son Jonas is also a test for Caroline. Jonas is going to school this year, and he is a very active kid with his own ideas. “Jonas is a kid who likes to say no to others,” said Caroline. “If you say go right, he will definitely go left. Sometimes it’s very hard for me to remain patient. When he speaks loudly, I can’t help but speak to him with a loud voice too. Then he won’t listen to me at all, let alone allow me to educate him. Afterward, I end up regretting that I wasn’t able to be tolerant, and decide to do better next time. Gradually, [I’ve gotten to the point now that] when he screams, I can stay calm.”

Wishing for a Return to China

Caroline’s biggest wish is to be able to do the exercises freely in public with family and friends in China. Ten years ago, Caroline went to Bejing’s Tiananmen Square with her father and sister to peacefully appeal for Falun Gong practitioners in China. She was arrested and beaten by the police. Before going to Tiananmen Square, they visited the Summer Palace in Beijing. The imperial garden left a deep impression on her. She said, “Next time I go to Beijing, I hope to do the exercises at the Summer Palace.”

Of course, she will first go visit her father-in-law, whom she has never met. Her father-in-law has never met his grandson or granddaughter either. Six-year-old Jonas often talks with his grandfather on the phone, but still cannot imagine the real person behind his voice.

Chen Yuan finished by saying, “I believe that in the near future, we will be able to openly meet with practitioners in China, and practice the exercises in public together.”

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