I think it was 1997. I was nine years old and I saw a movie of Jackie Chan for the first time in my life. And it changed my life. I have never returned the VHS tape I borrowed from my classmate. To this day, I remember it like it was yesterday. The movie was called Police Story 1; it had the original voices in the background and one sound layer over it with dubbing in Polish, which I didn’t understand and together with the original sound it was creating a crazy mix of sounds. I have seen that movie so many times that eventually it was impossible to play that tape again. That was the moment when I felt in love with China.

I started to be obsessed. I bought translucent paper and a book with one Chinese character on the cover – Dao, the path – and I tried to draw that character every day (I had no idea how the characters are written of course). When I was in 9th grade (probably 14 years old), my parents found me a private teacher of Chinese, but it was too expensive for us. So later I enrolled in a night course of the Chinese language. During high school I was known as a boy who didn’t care about football or hockey but one who was writing Chinese characters all day. During math class, geography class, chemistry, physics – I always had a hidden paper with Chinese characters where I was practicing after teachers stopped looking. Two times a week, after school when others went to the cinema or a party, I traveled to another city for night classes of Chinese. After four years of high school, my university major was clear to everyone.

In my first year at the university, I went to apply for an annual scholarship to China. I was rejected. As a freshman that knew nothing, it was impossible for me to get it. So I tried the next year, this time successfully. Each night before my first departure, I dreamed about how it could be in China. I had no idea about the reality; I just knew China from books. I still remember my first night after arriving in Dalian City in Northern China. The memory will never disappear. After finishing my studies, it was clear. I had to move to China. I just didn’t know how.

I didn’t apply for my master’s degree in Czech, but I applied for a job as a tour guide instead. This way I could visit China at least a few times a year. I got my first assignment and I was supposed to go back home after the trip. But I didn’t get on that plane. I knew that I had to make it work in China. The next Christmas I was going home – not from China to Slovakia, but from Slovakia to China after visiting my family. My second biggest childhood dream came true. I was living in China.

At that moment I had no idea that in a few months, my number one childhood dream would come true as well. As an interpreter at the International Film Festival in Shanghai, I met with Jackie Chan – the man who started it all. I spent an unforgettable 20 minutes interpreting for him, after which he probably forgot about me, but I will always remember that every dream is possible. You just have to have the courage and be willing to work hard.