HAIKOU, Oct. 3 (Xinhua) -- On Mourad Alami's office desk are two bilingual books, "The Legend of the White Snake" and "Mencius," available in both German and Chinese, which have piqued his interest in traditional Chinese culture.
Hailing from Germany, Mourad Alami, 71, is a professor of German language at Hainan College of Foreign Studies located in the city of Wenchang in south China's island province of Hainan.
Mourad Alami's serendipitous connection with China began about 50 years ago. During the early 1970s, while he was a university student in Germany, one of his classmates traveled to China and described the experience as "an unknown adventure."
"It was also very strange and interesting to me," Mourad Alami said, adding that it marked his initial encounter with China.
He first visited China in 1995 as the interim President of the German-Arab Chamber of Industry and Commerce. What impressed him most was that there were few cars and hundreds or thousands of people were cycling on the streets.
"It was a very interesting experience and I wanted to know more about China," Mourad Alami reminisced, noting that he started collecting books about China, delving into Chinese history and exploring further.
"China has rich history and heritage, like the Great Wall, and the Terracotta Warriors in Xi'an, some things that only exist in China and you cannot find in other parts of the world," he said.
He also gradually fell in love with traditional Chinese culture and extensively read German translations of Chinese literature, including the creations of renowned Chinese poets like Su Shi and Li Bai.
"Poetry rhymes, and it is a pity that the German translation cannot fully appreciate the beauty of Chinese poetry," Mourad Alami said. Thus, he yearned to learn more about China beyond what books could offer.
"If you are reading books, it's just the theory. You cannot speak with people, and you cannot have a real taste of the country," he said.
When he had the opportunity to come to China to work in 2014, he immediately grabbed the chance and joined Hefei University in east China's Anhui Province as a professor. After three years, he relocated to the country's southwest Chongqing Municipality and lived there for a year.
While living in Hefei, the provincial capital of Anhui, he visited Hainan for a vacation and instantly fell in love with the island.
He was particularly drawn to the pleasant climate, the beautiful sea, the warmth of the local people, and the delicious array of seafood.
"I was infatuated with Hainan, and that's why I came back," he said. "I think it's really the right place for me," Mourad Alami said. "I have made many Chinese friends. I feel at home."
He has lived in Hainan for nearly a year, and during this time he has explored numerous locations on the island, including cities like Sanya, Wanning and the provincial capital Haikou. His favorite pastime involves visiting local markets, talking to the local people, and savoring the local cuisine.
In the midst of it all, as a poetry enthusiast, he once day decided to convey his affection for China and his experiences through the art of poetic expression. He has recently completed a poetry collection that revolves around Hainan, and it is set to be published soon.
"Inspiration comes from everywhere," Mourad Alami said. "When you encounter somebody, and when you see something interesting, you make it a little bit abstract. Poetry conveys emotions and perceptions."
He noted that poetry serves as his medium for paying tribute to China, as he seeks to convey his profound connection to the country through his lyrical verses.