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'Uncle Hanzi' and his 'Hanzi Life'

People's Daily Online)  08:13, August 22, 2012

"Uncle Hanzi" takes a tour and receives interview in People's Daily Online, Aug 13, 2012. (Photo / People's Daily Online)

Edited and translated by Xue Meng, People's Daily Online

Every Hanzi, i.e. Chinese character, embodies a beautiful story. “Uncle Hanzi”, a 62-year-old American living in China named Richard Sears, has spent all his savings to research the origins of Chinese characters and put more than 96,000 ancient Chinese characters online by setting up the website, which allow people to search for free.

Richard Sears is just a small potato in the U.S. Divorced, unemployed and living alone, his life in China is not that easy. In order to save money, “Uncle Hanzi” rented an apartment suited in an old building in Tianjin. The apartment is less than 30 square meters and is only equipped with a bed, a desk, a computer and a fridge. The small room is his place for meeting, working and sleeping.

He does not have a stable job, but only making money by doing private teaching. He has to work by himself since he cannot afford an assistant. His fridge is always empty and he often eats street food. In order to collect information, he often travels between the U.S. and China. All his savings have been used to purchase traditional Chinese character dictionaries. He has spent more than 300,000 US dollars on website construction and maintenance.

Living a poor life, “Uncle Hanzi” doesn’t regret at all because it is his own choice and he is doing what he likes. Although he does not have a house or a car like many of his friends in the U.S. do, he feels pity that his friends have never come to China and learn the secrets of the Chinese characters. This life time experiences and happiness can never be bought by money.

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