Marielle de Dardel（戴蕙兰），生于 1959 年，弗里堡大学国际办公室主 任。曾于1980年在北京师范大学学习。其丈夫戴尚贤，现为瑞士驻华大使。
THE SUMMER OF 1982
Marielle de Dardel
Marielle de Dardel, born in 1959, Director of the International Office of the University of Fribourg, studied at Beijing Shifan Daxue in 1980, married with Jean-Jacques de Dardel, Ambassador of Switzerland to the People’s Republic of China, the Republic of Mongolia and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
I first set foot on mainland Chinese soil in Shenzhen, as I walked across the border from Hong Kong. After the tumult of the densely packed Sino-British city, I felt as if I had arrived at a national park, laced with greenery and trees, where I saw people wearing uniforms that made them look like forest rangers. As a well-travelled student who had visited many places, mainly in Western Europe, I was neither taken aback nor uneasy about this change of setting. In fact, I was rather charmed by the laid-back atmosphere and the open spaces I discovered in the fledgling economic zone. Originally, my friend and I had wanted to travel via Moscow by train. However, for various reasons we finally chose to reach our final destination, the Beijing Normal University Campus, via a much slower route. The idea was to slow down our pace so as to better enjoy our journey. And indeed, in this manner we made so many enjoyable discoveries and had such a rich experience that I remember wishing our travels would never end. Valérie and I had started our Chinese studies in Paris at INALCO (Institut des langues et civilisations orientales) at the same time. She had also studied Russian at the University, whereas I was undertaking a second period of training, along with my studies in Art History, which I had started a year earlier. We were driven by curiosity, a passion for untrodden paths and a wish to better understand a world so different from our own. Actually, this world had already made considerable inroads in our daily lives, as we would discover: “Ceci mon petit, c’est du Chine” (“This, my little one, is China”). Indeed, in those days, “Chine” was also the French word for porcelain, and in my earliest memories I can recall hearing and seeing a lot of China while visiting my grandmother’s country home.
At the beginning of our sojourn in the PRC, our main surprise was to realize that spending two years learning Mandarin was an effort that had paid off, as we were able to have conversations and exchange ideas with our new friends in the train headed for Beijing. Our travel companions were mainly middle aged and extremely curious, which enabled us to have some of the most varied conversations I can remember. It was well known that Switzerland had acknowledged the Republic a mere three and a half months after its inception, and the ensuing positive attitude led to a friendly desire for information about my home country. We thus made new friends almost immediately and enjoyed realizing how “normal” it all was. I have a very vivid memory of telling my friend Valérie how much not only the landscape, but also the experience in the train caused memories of Italy to flash through my mind. I remember explaining to her that this was probably due to the rice fields I had seen time and again around Torino, as well as the close relationship between the generations and the resulting noisy discussions that had been part of my Italian surroundings.
My suitcase was filled with presents for a nine-year-old girl, the daughter of one of my Chinese professors in Paris, who missed her terribly and who would not be able to see her for two years. At that time there were no mobile phones or internet connections. Getting in touch with my professor’s wife was a challenge, as I had to reach her through the phone shared by the neighbourhood where she lived. However, in the end I succeeded and the get-togethers with her and her daughter were always a feast, and a delightful opportunity to have picnics in the beautiful parks of Beijing. This gave me an insider’s view of ordinary life in the city, which was very welcome.
The only colours which stood out in the streets were those of the rainbow-coloured f lags put up here and there, which mingled with the beautiful red flowers along the main avenues. It felt magical to cycle to Tiananmen square, or to arrive in the busy Wangfujing! Distances seemed quite short on the map and this frequently led us astray: Oh! The stress of pedalling through busy traffic so as not to be late for a dinner appointment! As I recall, they were usually set at the surprisingly early time of five o’clock in the afternoon! The bicycle traffic was amazing, as were the policeman and policewomen, moving their arms and bodies as precisely as the hands on the faces of our watches. I quickly lost the urge to try to equate what we were experiencing to what we knew from elsewhere and stubbornly tried to understand the new rules which would regulate my life for the coming weeks. The silhouettes of the various architectural styles were magical sights in the early morning, as was the special quality of the sunrise at Yihe Yuan! And then there were the enticing smells of the fried guojie that people would grab for breakfast on their way to work. Some of the images, the characteristic smells, and the accompanying emotions remain very vivid in my mind up to this day: birds singing as I walked through the parks, a feeling of lightness as I mastered my environment, the joy of communicating, new flavours, new dishes, the need to be healthy and to exercise taiji in the parks… Some words and concepts took on a new meaning for me,
such as space and large space, or crowd, as we watched the never-ending flow of people hurrying or waiting in line in the main train station; common words such as smile, as we walked and exchanged eye contact with the people we passed and shared glances full of meaning. And then there were familiar concepts, which took on a new meaning, a new depth: solidarity, friendship, sharing, to name just a few of the values that I came to cherish in a different way, at a different level, as I felt ever more deeply immersed in this very different society. My curiosity, my thirst for discovery, knowledge and understanding were immense, and all of the questions asked, whether answered or unanswered, had a huge impact on my way of thinking and of experiencing. This, I felt, was shared by all students of my generation, irrespective of their backgrounds.