Henry, a French leather goods maker who runs a medium-sized business in Moldova, came to me and asked for my assistance. He had actually been in Guangzhou for some time and was a little frustrated. He told me when I met him in his hotel that everyone seemed to speak English here in Guangzhou and were willing to help, but his business was still in a standstill and he could not find the right type of leather that his factory was badly in need! I, a naturally smart guy, understood his trouble even when he was talking to me: his strong accent and the seldom used leather terms. For the part of technical terms, I am no better than other translators, except that I am a curious cat and is willing to plunge into any unfamiliar industry. Put this concern aside, which would take some time to fix, I approached the accent problem first, that is, I talked to Henry directly in French, a kind of poor French, but good enough to let him know that I understand French perfectly and speak that language if necessary. Henry was more than pleased to find someone who can really speak his native language, and had ever since never returned to English, which turned out to be a hard test for my French proficiency.
Henry’s business proceeded satisfactorily after that, at least he told me so. We found not only the finished leather market, but also visited in and around Guangzhou several selected tanners , who can truly make good leather. I also accompanied him to Shanghai and Hangzhou for leather, elastic fabric and silk.
I was satisfied with myself. After working with Henry for two weeks, I acquired a pretty good knowledge about the leather industry and my French improved a lot. Henry seemed also satisfied with my service. Each time he came back to China, even if he landed in Shanghai, he called me first and asked me to fly in to join him. And when he left, I would look after his business here.
I love French so much!