Indonesian teacher gains fame by performing face-changing, dedicated to sharing Chinese culture in local community

(People's Daily Online) 10:43, November 25, 2022

Raymond Abraham, 30, is a Chinese language teacher at a primary school in Surabaya, Indonesia. In August 2022, he started to learn face-changing online. Face-changing is an acting method used in traditional Sichuan Opera.

Raymond Abraham practices face-changing. (yangtse.com/courtesy of the interviewee)

During a Mid-Autumn Festival celebration held in 2022, Abraham brought a face-changing show to more than 200 spectators for the first time. The show left a deep impression on the crowds and aroused their interest in the art form.

"Some teachers knew about face-changing, but they had never watched a show before mine," Abraham recalled, adding that after the show, many teachers and students came to him to express their willingness to learn the technique from him.

Abraham started to learn Chinese at high school. Back then, there were few online learning opportunities or after-school tutoring that he could use to learn Chinese. Undeterred he bought Chinese language textbooks and a dictionary to learn Chinese by himself. He also read Chinese newspapers every day and often chatted with friends in Chinese on social media, to improve his Chinese proficiency.

When he was a university student, Abraham achieved high grades in the Chinese language proficiency test.

Raymond Abraham performs a face-changing show for children. (yangtse.com/courtesy of the interviewee)

Abraham went to study at a Chinese university under an exchange program in 2013. He deeply fell in love with the country during his stay and decided that he would come to China again after graduation. In September 2014, Abraham came to China to pursue postgraduate studies at Zhengzhou University in central China's Henan Province.

In July 2022, Abraham became a Chinese teacher at Surabaya Montessori School in Surabaya. In order to better teach his students, Abraham would actively learn Chinese culture during his spare time.

In August 2022, when he was watching a short video about face-changing, Abraham became interested in the acting method. He started to learn it by watching guide videos. When he realized the challenges of performing face-changing, he began learning it from a Chinese face-changing artist via online classes.

"As a Chinese teacher, I have a tight teaching schedule, and as a learner of face-changing, I must try to take time off to learn the technique. Commonly, I practice the trick for 30 minutes before the first class begins in the morning and then for a certain period of time after school in the same day. After one month of learning and practicing, I gained some basic face-changing skills," Abraham explained.

Raymond Abraham poses for a picture in Shanghai. (yangtse.com/courtesy of the interviewee)

Face-changing has made Abraham famous in his local community. To date, he has brought nearly 10 face-changing shows in his locality, performing in front of hundreds of keen opera fans each time. Abraham said he has been invited by a local overseas Chinese association to perform during an activity which is scheduled to be held in February 2023.

Abraham once made a video to share his experience associated with learning and spreading Chinese culture in the local community, as well as his learning of the face-changing art. The video won the third prize in a short video contest jointly held by Chinese Embassy in Indonesia, the China Public Diplomacy Association and the Foreign Policy Community of Indonesia earlier this year.

He plans to open a face-changing studio in Indonesia to share Chinese culture with more local people.

(Web editor: Hongyu, Du Mingming)


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