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Student profile: Meet Fumie Yamazaki, whose cross-cultural background reflects the diversity of GBJ


Fumie Yamazaki’s father is Japanese, her mother is from Shenzhen in southern China, and she speaks Mandarin with a Beijing accent. The first-year Global Business Journalism, who also understands English and Cantonese, is both at home everywhere and not completely accepted anywhere, no matter how adaptable she tries to be.

“People in China identify me as a Japanese because of my foreign name,” she said in an interview. “People in Japan identify me as a Chinese because I don’t speak Japanese.”

Fumie has spent most of her life in China. She grew up in Shenzhen and moved to Beijing for a better education at age 14. The bicultural student spent a year in Japan when she was 10, trying to reconnect with her Japanese roots, but she decided to return to China after a year because she says she was “more accustomed to life here.” Fumie has stayed in Beijing since, and graduated in 2019 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and business from Tsinghua University.

Although many strangers assume Fumie is Japanese, she’s definitely Chinese in her cultural choices. Her comical banters with friends sounds just like a Chinese cross-talk show. Her interests have also become deeply intertwined with Chinese culture. She watches ASMR videos on the top Chinese video-sharing platform BiliBlili and fan-girls over her favorite beauty vlogger, Xu Weibo.

Fumie’s living experiences in northern and southern China have provided her greater insight to China’s cultural and language diversity. She code-switches when talking to friends of different regions “to adapt to different language environments,” although she takes some time to settle back. She added jokingly that her southern-born mother finds her northern accent “weird and uncomfortable” when she returns to Shenzhen.

Fumie, 22, is studying for a master’s degree in Global Business Journalism at Tsinghua University. She hopes to cultivate an integrated understanding of business and journalism, expanding upon her undergraduate training. She also hopes to improve her English communication skills under the guidance of veteran international journalists in the Global Business Journalism program.

While she’s not sure what she wants to do for a career, she’s certain that the expertise she learns in Global Business Journalism, combined with her natural multiculturalism, will prepare her well.

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