Quing: “Are you strong enough?”

quing on chair in library

What if

Interview with Quing. Topic: “Home”. Unlike for all other interviews on the Mangotree so far, it was Quing who invited us to sit with her for a feature in her Magazine of Photographic Storytelling Leaf City. She interviewed us and took plenty of photos after our chat (find the first one on her Instagram). Since time was too short for a double session, we interviewed her via Skype a week later. When we told her that we were about to publish the interview, she said that she was looking forward to reading it sitting down with a cup of tea or a cocktail. We shall do the same. Enjoy the read!

What if you never moved to the Netherlands?

Before I moved to the Netherlands I had a boyfriend, that asked me to marry him. So we were kind of engaged, not officially. So I probably would have married really early, with 20 or 21. My parents are divorced and I am the only child. I never had a family and I was always looking for my own family. So If I never left China I think I would have had family very early. And I still think I would have become a photographer or writer. But I think it would have taken longer to develop myself because of no open sources. We have a censorship in China so I would not be exposed to a lot of stuff that I had access to here.

Do you think that human kind develops the same interests wherever it is?

I think in my case it’s probably because I have a very strong personality and I have a very strong sense of self and I was always looking for my own path. Since I was very little I never really listened to other people I always had my own ideas and looked for my own stuff. Because of that, I guess circumstances in my case would not be the deciding factor. But as I said earlier – it would have taken much longer to become what I am today because of the resources that we don’t have. So time would be the difference. But I think I would end up doing the same thing. I could not imagine doing anything else than what I am doing now. It fits my personality and I think it is a natural thing to do for me.

quing pink staircase 2

How did you deal with your individual needs back then in a context that is not very oriented towards the individual?

I was always very opinionated from what I can remember and of course, it is not very easy because the environment where I grew up was not really tolerant. Therefore, I feel I had a lot of obstacles many frictions with parents and teachers. I always had the label of being a very strong individual and that this is really negative.

How does it feel to grow up with such a negative label?

I never went through a ‘normal’ teenager phase and never really rebelled in a normal way with drinking or smoking. I was never like that. But I did rebel in my own way. I always had my own ideas and I expressed my opinions quite freely. That was not always responded to well by authorities like my parents or teachers. They did not like my opinion. I had a lot of arguments and they thought I am too argumentative so they punished me for that in all kind of ways. I still have arguments today, I am just really opinionated. And I enjoy arguing as well.

Did you feel that you probably are going to leave China one day? 

Yes. When I was in High School I only had friends who left and studied abroad, so at that point, I realized I could do it as well.

You could do it or you wanted to do it as well?

I could and also I wanted. I wanted vaguely but I also knew I kind of could. At that time if you could afford to go abroad you were able to support yourself financially. And I knew that my parents would be able to support me. I got into a lot of arguments with my parents but they were always supportive. I made my own decision to go abroad and they did not give me any pressure. The only thing they said to me is: really think about it. It is a big decision of your life. You want to leave the country. We have this money for you and you don’t need to go abroad you can use it for your life here. In the end, they were supportive and they let me decide.

Quing writing

Did you imagine your abroad experience to be anything how it was?

No. I was really naïve and I was really clueless. For a young person to leave and go abroad could be a very traumatic experience if you are not psychologically ready. It can really do a lot to your psychological balance if you have to cope with all the challenges and the disorientation. It really changes your whole environment and you are completely on your own. I don’t think I was really ready to go abroad. Young people are very vulnerable. So if I look back and I would have to give advice to a young person going abroad I would say: it is really really tough, are you sure you are strong enough?


Place of Birth: Xi’an, China
Parents: mother: Xu An Li (hotel manager), father: Mao Shi Chao (Engineer)
Siblings: Single child
Profession: Blogger, Photographer
Age: 35
Nationality: Chinese
Relationship status: Married
Romantic or realistic? Realistic
How many Facebook friends do you have? About 300 friends, but I am only in contact with 5.
Adventure or Stability? Both
Coffee or Tea? Tea
My favorite spot in Amsterdam: One of my best friends’ living room. The windows are facing the canal.
If I were a bitterballen, I’d be filled with? Meat, I am a traditional one!
Sitting on a mango tree feels like: I never sat on one, I am afraid of climbing trees.

quing taking photos

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