Native Peruvian Guillermo Danino reflects on his 40 years in China

World Today

Native Peruvian Guillermo Danino reflects on his 40 years in China

There is not a Peruvian alive who knows China better than Guillermo Danino. The 87-year-old spent nearly four decades in China but returned to Peru in 2013.

In Lima, he tells CGTN’s Dan Collyns how it all began in 1979 as a professor of literature and linguistics. He was invited to teach Spanish to professors in China’s Nanjing University.

Native Peruvian Guillermo Danino reflects on his 40 years in China

Native Peruvian Guillermo Danino reflects on his 40 years in China

There is not a Peruvian alive who knows China better than Guillermo Danino. The 87-year-old spent nearly four decades in China but returned to Peru in 2013. In Lima, he tells CGTN's Dan Collyns how it all began in 1979 as a professor of literature and linguistics. He was invited to teach Spanish to professors in China's Nanjing University.
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“Gradually, I discovered what the people were like and the culture and it fascinated me so much that in spite of the fact that they only invited me for two years I arranged to stay for 35. For two main reasons, first, the type of people that I met, I don’t know if all the Chinese are the same but the people that I met were extraordinary; straightforward, cordial, cooperative, friendly etc. So, that was the first reason, the second is the enormous cultural wealth, it is the oldest culture in the human history,” Guillermo Danino told us.

Danino has written several books about Chinese poetry, history and culture. His life in China took an unexpected turn in 1980 he was invited to play the president of the International Fencing Federation in a movie.

“Did you ever expect traveling to China as an academic to have a career as a cinema actor?” we asked.

“I have my book, here it is, it is called ‘Who am I now’ the experiences of a Peruvian actor in China – and here I have the list of roles I played. I’ve been an ambassador, marshal, an Italian Jesuit, a French missionary, president of the International Fencing Federation, a drug trafficker, a general, a spy, a trader, an air pilot trainer, a doctor, a hotel owner, a journalist, a police officer, a car buyer, a tourist, an extra and myself,” he said.

Last November, China’s President Xi Jinping paid tribute to him in a speech on an official visit to Peru. We asked him what that meant to him.

“Honestly, when the president mentions you when you least expect it, moreover I personally spoke to him in Chinese, well for me it has been a prize for all my efforts over the years,” he said.

We asked him does he feel more Peruvian or Chinese.

“I have various articles here for example that have been written about my life and in one, in a Chinese magazine in Spanish, it says that I would like to be reincarnated as a Chinese person in order to learn Chinese from childhood because it’s too difficult as an adult,” he answered.