“It’s a heartbreaking job, but you get used to the pain”.

 

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I interviewed Kimiko Kuramotto, she has been a volunteer for ACNUR for almost 12 years and now recently, almost three years ago, she’s been promoted to Profile Programme Officer, although she still does some volunteer work. Kimiko Kuramotto is from Tianjin, China. She moved to Spain 15 years ago when she was only 21 years old. ACNUR offered her a volunteer job due to her nationality and her fluency in Spanish, English, Chinese, Japanese and American Sign Language. Her first volunteer work was in Kabul, Afghanistan.

She had to help out an internally displaced camp in Kabul during the Afghanistan war between the USA and Afghanistan. She described it as: –

“The most empowering yet saddening experience I’ve ever had, I couldn’t believe the amount of violence I witnessed, not from soldiers, not from war criminals, but from these internally displaced people, men would hit their wives, children would get abused from their parents, some guy slapped me just because he felt like it! horrible, absolutely horrible.”

She helped out for almost three years until ACNUR assigned her to refugee camp, it was located in Tindouf, Algeria. There were people from all kinds of nationalities, including a Chinese family that was being tortured by the Chinese government because they thought they were terrorists and working undercover for Japan. ACNUR sent them to Tindouf. They didn’t send them to the other refugee camps located in Spain, Greece, Germany and many other countries in Europe because the family didn’t want to. She described this experience as: –

“One of the best experiences I’ll never forget, people were so nice, I played with the children, I even taught them some sign-language, I would talk to the seniors and listen to all of their stories. I would talk to everyone actually. I spent 2 Christmases there and we had a big feast. Wonderful.”

From 2011 to 2013, she had been helping a refugee camp in Kiribati, located in Asia-Pacific. She didn’t talk much about it. She said that it was so saddening that she had to leave a few months before, she said she could wait to get out of that “emotionally draining hell”.

I asked her if she likes being a volunteer, she replied:-

“It’s a nice job, but it has its pros and its cons. But between you and me, it’s a heartbreaking job, but you get used to the pain.”

Lastly, I asked her personal opinion on how we can help out these refugees around the world, including the ones from Asia-Pacific, she deeply exhaled, and explained: –

“People really don’t care about refugees, the donations and volunteers are becoming even smaller, people turn their back on them. I can assure you if they were in their situation, then they would want people to donate and help out. People are becoming cold-hearted and even more selfish. Donations and volunteering even for 2 weeks are extremely helpful. Anything counts.”

She then explained to me how with her new position in ACNUR, she still can help out refugees around the world, especially in Asia-Pacific. She works in the area of Asia-Pacific in which she assists in the planning, implementation, monitoring and reporting of protection and assistance programming for refugees, internally displaced and stateless people in the Asia-Pacific region.

She was incredibly nice and even though I realized that some questions brought her back some bad memories as well as good memories, she never hesitated to give me a nice, complete answer. I definitely enjoyed my interview with her.

Kimiko, thank you! I hope to see you in a near future.

 

Written by Nannie Nino.

 

 

 

Interview with the Chancellor and Minister for bilateral cooperation between Haiti and Spain.

In recent years, Haiti has been a country that has been  repeatedly hit by natural catastrophes over and over again. On Thursday, May the 1st, I had the honour to interview Mr. Louis Marie Montford Saintil, Chancellor and Minister for bilateral cooperation between Haiti and Spain.

During this interview we went over different topics such as the 2010 earthquake, the aid provided by the UN, the cooperation between Spain and Haiti, the meeting between the secretary of Internal Security of the United States and finally, the catastrophe caused by Hurricane Matthew last year.

 

The earthquake that occurred in Haiti in 2010 was one of the major catastrophes of this decade leaving behind more than 300,000 deaths and 350,000 wounded.

After this tragic event, countries around the world wanted to contribute with economic and humanitarian assistance in cooperation with the UN bodies to help the Haitian people.

One of the European countries that gave strong support to Haiti during this period of turmoil was Spain being considered a vital partner of Haiti after the earthquake. According to Mr. Saintil, Spain contributed more than 346 million euros in the fund for the reconstruction of Haiti during the donors’ conference in March 2010. It is there that the cooperation between Haiti and Spain began and according to Mr. Saintil it is worth noting that Spain was the third country that gave most help to Haiti after the United States and Canada and the first one in the EU.

Right now, Haiti is one of the 23 countries that the Spanish executive gives more priority to in terms of cooperation and aid. During the last Minister’s visit of Haitian cooperation, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Spanish Cooperation, assured him that Haiti would continue to be a priority in terms of  providing help to ensure cooperation and development in the island.

The last two agreements that were signed between the two nations are a protocol in relation to the promotion and protection of investments as well as a framework partnership agreement. This framework agreement was signed in June 16th, 2015 between the minister of foreign affairs and cooperation of Haiti, and the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Spanish Cooperation.

According to Luis Marie Montford, Spanish cooperation in Haiti focuses on specific issues, mainly rural development, the fight against poverty, education, water and sanitation; the fight against climate change and cultural development mainly, all of these being Sustainable development goals.

Moreover, the two governments are currently studying how to extend cooperation throughout Haitian territory because currently this cooperation is only centered in the west (the capital), the center and the south east.

It is worth noting that the US also helped Haiti, Mr. Saintil stated. The American Government made available to the Haitians a TPS (Temporary Protected Status) that is renewed every 18 months. Surprisingly, the Trump administration  has decided not to renew this temporary status. On the 31st of May, the Secretary of Homeland Security of the United States went to Haiti to see in which conditions the Haitians live in today because of the massive protests being carried out by the Haitians living in the US. The aim of these protest was mainly to have the US government approve a demand for the renewal of the temporary status to the 60,000 Haitians living there, Mr.Santil mentioned.

Six years later another major catastrophe occurred, Hurricane Matthew, destroying Haiti once again and causing problems in the purification of water and favoring the spread of cholera disease. Following this event, the UN Secretary General decided to dedicate the 40 million dollars that were in a reserve fund for Haiti, as the UN had already signed a mission for this country, the MINUSTAH, United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti for the fight against cholera.This figure only represents 10% of what the Haitian government estimates they need to correctly eradicate cholera.

Currently, the Haitian executive is based on aligning the bilateral agreements between Haiti and other countries within their priorities and redirecting those within the framework of cooperation. The objective is no longer to donate funds just for the sake of it, but to have donations that are most importantly effective. In order to do this, the UN and other country´s aid funds have to be guided by the government’s plan because it is the one who knows the needs of the people, the Haitian minister said. It is in our best interest to promote trade and investment with the aim of creating jobs as this is what will ultimately make the Haitian people be autonomous, hence emerge out of poverty, Mr. Saintil said.

Mr. Louis Marie Montford finished the interview by establishing a metaphor between the aid and the real situation his people is living back in Haiti “It is better to provide people with a fishing rod than with fish.” meaning that the means are everything in order to accomplish the targeted objectives.

William Lenôtre Okemba Ongagna

“For them, women are seen as weak toys and war’s weapons” Mr. O.O. Akinlude

Mr. O.O. Akinlude is the Consular and Immigration Minister of the Embassy of Nigeria in Madrid, Spain. As a specialist in International Relations and Immigration, he has a lot of experience on issues that concern West Africa, especially on issues directly related to Nigeria.

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The Islamic fundamentalist terrorist group Boko Haram due to the constant threat is  one of the main reasons why I chose a special representative in Nigeria. This group was founded in 2002 and since 2009 has provoked thousands of altercations where countries like Cameroon, Chad, Niger, Mali and most of Nigeria have been affected.

The first part to be analysed was the description of the current situation of Nigeria after the continuous attacks by the terrorist group Boko Haram, as well as the handling of the situation by the government and economic impact to this fear in the country. His face of concern over the subject was clearly apparent. Akinlude began describing that the current situation was based on fear of any unexpected attack, stressing the complexity of anticipating the timing of these attacks. Akinlude emphasised the need for confidence and security on the part of the Nigerian population in the government but in turn empathized with the fact that it was a very complicated situation to demand that calm. He mentioned that since the death of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, the entry of arms into Libya had increased considerably, as many barriers that were previously vetoed or closed were opened due to his death.

With regard to the economic impact, he emphasised the importance of Nigeria as one of the leading countries in the oil supply, being in 2017 the second behind Mexico with higher exports (8.1 million tons). But he also criticised the fact that it can not be further developed because of the conflicts that have arisen in recent years, which have damaged Nigeria’s economy.

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Continuing with the importance of the terrorist group Boko Haram in Nigeria, in the second part of the interview the questions were related to specific topics carried out by the group in recent years, where we highlight the kidnapping of 82 girls in Chibouk (north-eastern Nigeria) and attacks of suicidal children in the last two years. The question about the abduction procedure was very necessary, as well as the role of women as the object of these attacks. Akinlude explained that 200 girls were abducted on April 14, 2014 and in October 2016, 21 of them were released thanks to the help of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and Switzerland), but that it was not until May 7 when the news of the release of 82 of them was announced. The recruitment of combatants through kidnappings is very common by the terrorist group, especially in the border territory with Chad, Cameroon and Niger. The release of the girls, according to Akinlude, was an exchange of prisoners of war belonging to the Boko Haram group.

The use of children with the target of suicide attacks was one of the points to analyse, where Akinlude gave a figure of 117 attacks. These were the attacks carried out by minors by the terrorist group Boko Haram (80% of the bombs are caused by children). Akinlude exemplified the detonation in 2016 at the mosque in Kolofata (10 people were killed), repeating itself in 2015.

Regarding the question about the role of the woman he commented, “For them, women are seen as weak toys and war’s weapons”. This is a very harsh, cruel, and real statement of how women are treated in these war processes. Women are seen more vulnerable and able to succumb to this type of terrorist groups, seeing this weakness in the same way the children.

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The third part of the interview was based on future interventions and aid with modernised material adapted to the fight against terrorism in Nigeria to combat this group, since in December 2016 it was believed to be crushed but the attacks continued. Akinlude stresses the current attitude of Russia, which has offered to give aid until 2018 (Covenant by Foreign Minister Geoffrey Onyeama). In addition, in this last year Cameroon has received a total of 96,000 refugees and in Diffa (north-eastern Nigeria) there are 240,000 displaced people fleeing the wars.

Finally I asked him a question about how he saw Nigeria in the future. He emphasized a small smile of hope showing the desire that this big problem, “Hell”, ends.

This interview has made me reflect on the problems that occur around us. Many times we see these problems so external to us that we do not give them the importance they have and after this interview I have felt very closed and I have been able to see the complicated situation of Nigeria more closely.

It was a pleasure to interview Mr O.O. Akinlude.

 

Andrea Centeno Pobre

 

Interview with Venezuelan Press

Venezuelan Press

I started contacting with embassies and organizations many weeks ago, looking for an interview, although I received many responses, I decided to choose the Venezuelan Press because of its important role in Venezuelan journalism and its actions to achieve justice.

Carleth Morales Senges, President of Venezuelan Press, started talking about the history and values that this association has. The Association of Venezuelan journalists in Spain, registered the Venezuelan Press in May 2015, although its origin goes back to 2007, the date in which a group of Venezuelan journalists began, organizing meetings in Madrid with relevant Venezuelan’ citizens, who arrived to Spain to report firsthand what was happening in Venezuela. Currently it is formed by more than 300 Venezuelan communicators residing in Spain and 19 Members of Honor, outstanding figures linked to the field of communication in Venezuela and Spain. 

It has two clearly defined objectives, to help the partners in their social and labor insertion in Spain, and to serve as sound board in the battle the guild has in Venezuela in defense of freedom of expression.

We had a cordial conversation about the actual and complicated situation of Venezuela.Freedom of expression, consecrated in article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, from which freedom of the press derives, is one of the many fundamental rights violated today in Venezuela. A dossier by “Reporteros Sin Fronteras” corroborates this: Venezuela is situated as 139 in the ranking of 180 countries studied for freedom of the press, a position that drops between two and three points each year. Freedom of expression and information in Venezuela is deteriorating constantly, united with the intensification of the economic and social crisis that hit the country. The 2,648 cases of violations of press freedom in the past 15 years -between 2001 and 2016- registered by the IPYS( Instituto Prensa y Sociedad Venezuela), give good account of it.

We are also interested in the news, are the news published in this country really trustworthy? According to Venezuelan Press, what happens in Venezuela is that there is a communicational hegemony exercised by the government. A clear example is the access of newsprint, controlled by the Government, which has forced many print media to close, to reduce their pages or to not publish on weekends or holidays.

When President Nicolas Maduro came to power, there were 115 print media and today there are less than 80, and only one of them is independent and of national circulation. According to a study by the IPYS: The purchase of media in Venezuela registered in the last five years has determined a form of censorship and self-censorship in the exercise of journalism.

Also, Maduro and some high ranking people have radio and television programs through which they speaks to the country, live, for hours. Programs like: “En contacto con Maduro”, “La hora de la salsa”or “Con el mazo dando”, are some of them, direct channels with direct access to the population and the world making them effective communication tools for their goals. The abuse of power is public and notorious in these programs, where an inappropriate language is already a constant.

In Venezuela there is not only censorship in the press or television, also the freedom of expression is violated. Everyone knows about the case of Leopoldo López, the opponent imprisoned for supposedly organizing the demonstrations of “La Salida” in 2014. He has been sentenced to 13 years and 9 months of prison only for stating his opinion and for fight peacefully for the freedom of his country.

To fight this situation of lack of freedom, Venezuelan Press carries out a campaign under the motto #VenezuelaSOSnow, a help call addressed to the International Organizations that watch over Human Rights, motivated by the constant violation of Human Rights in Venezuela. The extreme situation in the country has so far generated several reactions in the International Community, but the country calls for a reliable pronouncement to relieve internal stress. Demonstrators call for more support for the implementation of international treaties, guarantors of human rights, and that will not become wet paper. That’s the aim of the #VenezuelaSOSnow campaign, which will remain on the networks as long as fundamental rights are violated in Venezuela. All of this has caused a panic situation, with daily demonstrations that the Government suppresses with the use violence without a doubt. Also, migration is booming, many Venezuelans are forced to leave their country.

Those issues could end up in the future scenario proposed by Josep Maldonado(former parliament member and former Spanish senator) in a recent interview for Venezuelan Press he affirmed: “I fear for a civil war in Venezuela”. This perception is shared by other actors in the national and international scene, but it is very difficult to predict, for there are countless factors that would have to intervene and it is an ending that we all hope will not come to pass.

In conclusion, if we want to change Venezuela’s situation, the solution to this crisis involves respect for the Constitution, the laws, rules and international treaties, which respect Human Rights in their full dimension. If this does not change, the international community should strengthen its measures in order to bring order and peace in Venezuela.

 

Irene Matamoros Flores.

 

 

“It is difficult to foresee the end of this story in Venezuela. What I am sure about is that neither Maduro nor western countries are going to change their current strategies.”

Alberto Rubio, Bez diario´s editor, has a great experience in Madrid issues. He is in charge of covering any issue, mainly political, in Madrid. Graduated in journalism, he has never hidden his love to politics which can be shown in his articles. There were some protests against Nicolas Maduro in Madrid due to the Venezuelans residents in the capital of Spain and that is why he started his interest in Venezuela. The 4th of May I had the opportunity to meet him in a coffee shop where both of us felt comfortable.

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The first question that any student would ask is about Maduro´s government legitimacy. At the very first moment he smiled because it is a question that everyone asked him. He told me that based on statistics Maduro obtained more than the 50 % but there was a body called Consejo Nacional Electoral (CNE) that is in charge of counting every vote. It is said that this body is highly influenced by Maduro. Rubio criticised the Venezuela´s system because there is no separation of power nor human rights commitment.  Rubio states:” According to Amnesty International is has been a total of 1426 arrest and 59 imprisonment”.  Alberto Rubio clearly supports all International Organisations that report this data to the western world trying to sensitise western society.

It was inevitable to relate the actual riots with the other side of the world, the Middle East. Syria civil war started thanks to different riots that arose in the country. Nowadays it has become a battlefield where superpowers fight each other. I asked Alberto if there was any chance of becoming the Syria of Latin America. He totally rejected that possible scenario because “Russia has shown all its support to Syria both economic and ideological meanwhile he has supported the Venezuelan regime but he has not any interest in Venezuela yet.”

On the second part of the interview we focused on the documentary broadcast by Cuatro called En Tierra Hostil. The main objective of the documentary is going to the worst places which are hermetically sealed. One of the most known was Venezuela , this documentary starts with all the team wrapping up all the tapes and contacting some smugglers in order to pass all the film through the border. After these first minutes of documentary the team filmed the reality of Caracas which discredits Maduro´s speech. Obviously, Alberto watched the documentary and he agrees with the perspective of the team but he always remembers to anyone that not everything is real, mainly everything is true but sometimes reality is exaggerated. There was a case in which a PP member of parliament twitted a video where you can see protest in Venezuela. In reality it was protest in Congo not in Venezuela. He pointed out that we must double check all incoming information because we are over informed.

In addition, the interviewee gives some example about press freedom in Venezuela. According to Sociedad Interamericana de Prensa , Venezuela is an example of press setback because of the continues harassment and prosecution that exist to silence all journalist that try to cover Venezuela´s news. He claimed that even in developed countries such as Spain, censorship exits but in a lower scale. Another example is Turkey which can be considered as a developed country, one of the MINT members, and a magazine director strongly criticised the regime of Erdogan. We was sentenced to two years and he ran away of Turkey in a refugee´s boat.

Although in all countries censorship exists, there is a responsibility of developed countries and International Organisation to solve this situation. I asked him about Spain´s role in Venezuela due to the fact that many Spanish flew to Venezuela looking for a better life in Latin America. “Spain must be involved in Venezuela not only for its heritage in the region but for all that human rights that has been violated”. Venezuela’s prior president, Hugo Chávez, has really bad relations with Spain. We had the opportunity to remember that “¿Por qué no te callas?” from the Emeritus Juan Carlos I King of Spain.

The third part of the interview was about populism and economics. Based on my previous research I concluded that economics and politics are closely links. Those countries where poverty is widely spread in all the country, populism is likely to arise and succeed meanwhile wealth well distributed equals political stability. Alberto partially agrees with my statement and he brought two main topics to the discussion: Spain and Venezuela. Spain suffered one of the worst crises in its history and populism groups were created in order to represent all those people who were against the actions taken at that time. The party called Podemos, it said to have a close linked to Venezuelan regime, succeeded in the European Elections with a remarkable percentage but still insignificant. On the other hand we find populism in Venezuela which was affected by the crisis but it was deeper due to the insignificant measures taken by the government. Venezuelans becoming poorer and an economy that needed currency devaluation to be competitive showed how weak is populism in Latin America. Rubio claimed: “Every riot starts because of a general unhappiness of the situation, mainly economic or social problems are the ones that trigger that riots.”

Finally, I challenge Alberto to predict the possible scenarios that Venezuela can face in the coming future. Rubio answered : “ I think there may be three possible scenarios : few people are able to meet and create a powerful opposition that can overthrow Maduro´s regime, Venezuela´s authorities intimidate the opposition until it disappears and both sides increase tensions between each other ; as a consequence a civil war starts.

These last words made me think about the actual problem that Latin America can have if a country as Venezuela starts a civil war. The South American continent may become the new Syria were Maduro´s supporters will fight the oppositions supporters, but the most affected will be Venezuela´s population.

 

Juan Carlos González González

 

“Cheap labor has always been the advantage of Asian garments”

Italian clothing brand Alcott’s owner Mr. Salvatore Colella talks about their business, reasons behind doing business with Asian garments and how it affects the bringing a betterment in the relation between countries.

Alcott was born in 1988 from a great idea: to offer a product of trend and quality, at an economic price, so that the fashion was accessible to all. The ambitious business project collected in the years a great success, placing Alcott among the first Italian brand in the fast fashion retail sector. With the Alcott and Alcott Los Angeles brands, the company is present today with more than 150 outlets worldwide.

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What are the main reasons for choosing Asia for manufacturing garments? The current global apparel market is valued over $3000 billion, which is about 2% of world’s GDP. There are over 25 million people involved directly or indirectly with apparel manufacturing and over 60% are from Asia. The garment manufacturing in a collective way started in Asia in about 1950 in South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, Hong Kong. American companies were producing in there in selling in USA. Since then the industry spread in all over Asia for good number of workplace, cheap and qualified work force, quality products, mass production capacity and national focus.

Is that why you started doing business with Asian manufacturers? “Of course. To fulfill our production capacity with the best possible price and quality we chose Asia as our no.1 manufacturing continent.”

What is the current production and economic status of Alcott? Alcott currently produce their 70% of the garments in Bangladesh and the rest 30% is spread amongst China, Myanmar, Pakistan, Cambodia, Vietnam, Korea and Turkey including some Italy also. And for the record in 2015-16 the company’s turnover was $250 million.

What kind of problems are you facing nowadays? Our company sometimes face the transit time and shipping problems. As our main production country is Bangladesh, it takes about 30-35 days to reach the garments to reach Italy. We face port conjestion 3-4 times every year in Bangladesh. And sometimes we face problems for strikes when the production factory work but outside movement is not possible for the shipping.

Do you think it is strengthening the relation between countries? “You see, Alcott is now importing about $100 million from Bangladesh and other Asian countries. As we are a growing company and our focus on importing garments from Bangladesh is very promising. So, yes. I think the relation between the countries is strengthening through economic growth.

How do you feel about the workers in Bangladesh and what type of relation do you have with them? And what differences do you spot between the employees of Italy and Bangladesh? There is a significant difference between the employees in Italy and Bangladesh. In our company, all employees are under Italian and EU regulations. On the hand in Bangladesh the employees are working Bangladeshi and ILO regulations. We can not actually compare this two stages of people. Italy is a developed country and Bangladesh is one the fastest growing countries.

So do you like doing business with Bangladesh? “Absolutely. We are very happy doing business in Bangladesh. Actually the production percentage of our company shows it all whether we like doing business with Bangladesh or not.”

Has there been any change in your market? Since the starting of our company, we were importing mainly from China. But over the past few years Chinese garments industry and fashion moved too high and became too expensive. So we had to go to Bangladesh, Cambodia, Myanmar, Pakistan etc. In coming future there will be no changing unless we face a serious problem in Bangladesh.

Is the company’s purpose connected to you own? “Yes. 100% percent. But if you see broadly, our business ultimately helps our country’s economic growth.” Our company creates work opportunity not only in Italy but also in Bangladesh. Actually more Bangladeshi workers are earning their livelihood than our company’s employees. “Look, while focusing at our own profit, we kind of help balancing economic status is both countries.”

 

INTERVIEW HAS BEEN CONDENSED AND EDITED.

Interview

Xiaomei Huáng is a Chinese origin journalist graduated in journalism and holder of a master’s degree in communication of organizations to which I decided to interview for this work because it cost me a lot to find someone appropriate.

+ Why did you decide to study in Spain?

  • At first I tried to access to a very good Chinese university but could not because of the vast amount of competition there. The problem there is that in a thousand requests are accepted twenty or less.
  • That’s the reason why I came here.

+ What helped with the paperwork in Spain?

  • I came with the help of anagency dedicated to helping Chinese students to come to Spain to study.
  • They solve problems as requesting an university and when you get to Spain they locates you a language center, a student’s residence and arrange your papers.

+ Why do you think there are so many Chinese people studying a master’s degree in Spain?

  • Because it is very easy to apply for the master here, they do not have manyneeds and if you come from a bad Chinese university you can do it likewise.

It is easier to access than in China.

+ Do you know other ways to come from to Spain from China to study?

  • For example bystudent exchange or for a doctorate.

+ Why did you choose to study journalism?

  • I chose it overcoat to improve the Spanish.
  • I did the communication of organizations master’s degree because when I was in the career I realized that this was the area that I liked the most.
  • I also think that today it is easier to get a job with a master’s degree than only with an university’s degree.

+ What do you do when you finish studying here?

  • I want to go back to China and work in a multinational company.

+ Does Studying in Spain increases your chances of finding work?

  • Honestly I’m not sure but I think at least I can work in a company with different

+ What would you advise a Chinese student coming to Spain?

  • Is a very a good experience and the only bad thing is that youhave to come back to China.

 

In conclusion I like to say this cost me a lot becouse I couldn’t find any appropiate person for the interview and the person I have found couldn’t answer me more questions. I would have liked to make a more interesting and a bigger interview but this is the best I could find.

 

Interview realized by Carlos Diez Fortes