The night before I was heading for Scotland, I was invited to host the final of “China’s Got Talent” show in Shanghai with the 80,000 live audience in the stadium. Guess who was the performing guest? Susan Boyle. And I told her, “I’m going to Scotland the next day.” She sang beautifully, and she even managed to say a few words in Chinese. [Chinese] So it’s not like “hello” or “thank you,” that ordinary stuff. It means “green onion for free.” Why did she say that? Because it was a line from our Chinese parallel Susan Boyle — a 50-some year-old woman, a vegetable vendor in Shanghai, who loves singing Western opera, but she didn’t understand any English or French or Italian, so she managed to fill in the lyrics with vegetable names in Chinese. (Laughter) And the last sentence of Nessun Dorma that she was singing in the stadium was “green onion for free.” So [as] Susan Boyle was saying that, 80,000 live audience sang together. That was hilarious.
So I guess both Susan Boyle and this vegetable vendor in Shanghai belonged to otherness. They were the least expected to be successful in the business called entertainment, yet their courage and talent brought them through. And a show and a platform gave them the stage to realize their dreams. Well, being different is not that difficult. We are all different from different perspectives. But I think being different is good, because you present a different point of view. You may have the chance to make a difference.
My generation has been very fortunate to witness and participate in the historic transformation of China that has made so many changes in the past 20, 30 years. I remember that in the year of 1990, when I was graduating from college, I was applying for a job in the sales department of the first five-star hotel in Beijing, Great Wall Sheraton — it’s still there. So after being interrogated by this Japanese manager for a half an hour, he finally said, “So, Miss Yang, do you have any questions to ask me?” I summoned my courage and poise and said, “Yes, but could you let me know, what actually do you sell?” I didn’t have a clue what a sales department was about in a five-star hotel. That was the first day I set my foot in a five-star hotel.