Body-language and nonverbal communication

German wedding in a Chinese garden

German wedding in a Chinese garden

By chance I had a visit to the Chinese Garden at the Bochum University. It is a bit more than one thousand squaremeters big and it seems to be a little diamond in the big industrial area where I live.

A special treasure within the Botanical Garden is the Chinese Garden Qian Yuan, a classical southern Chinese scholar’s garden donated to the Ruhr University in 1990 by Bochum`s partner university, the Tongji University of Shanghai.

The garden is shaped like a square surrounded by walls. At each side there’s a window like round hole in the wall, so that you can get a glimpse, a little …………..impression, just being aware of the mysterious inside of the garden, by looking through that hole.


When you enter, you’re invited by little footsteps, crossing some water, carried by little bridges from one rock to the other. You go slowly and pass the rocks and bridges. You feel like in a tiny colonade moving from the right to the left and back again being aware of some water, than a wall again with some stony relief.

You’re always slightly implicitly bound to the center of the garden which is somehow and somewhere in a dampsed field of water lilies. Now and then (don’t forget that the garden is just one thousand squaremeters big 😉 ) you find a little place to rest under a wonderful curved roof. It reminded me of some kind of pavilion in ancient German parks. These places invite you to have rest, have a look down to the water where some coloured carps wait for you. They’re hungry and used that the people giving them some food. And yet this gives you a feeling, that they wait just for you and that they dare to show up at the surface to please the visitors of the Chinese Garden.

It is a strange garden and a familiar garden at the same time. It looks strange concerning the architecture and familiar concerning the invitation to having a rest, to power down, to concentrate on what you’re aware of without being distracted by unconvenient thoughts.

Of course I felt strange and familiar at the same time when I become aware of a couple who did their wedding photo shooting in some of these little pavilions I talked about. Tina und Florian looked really strange just being there. Huge and tall German people in such a gentle looking Chinese garden. I imagined little Chinese people walking around and meeting those tall Germans. (I think, both were about 1,90 m to 1,95 m tall) On a sudden I thought this would not fit. 😉 And I imagined what they would think in this moment with these tall Germans.

It is strange, it is unfamiliar. At the same time. There are so many beautiful places to do a wedding shooting in our area, I thought, and I asked myself why they had come here especially here to this Chinese Garden.

Of course I did not ask them, because I didn’t know them. Of course, I didn’t get an answer on my question. But the fact to meet them there seemed to be the answer. They had chosen this little place of thousand squaremeters, this mysterious little garden, which is so strange and familiar at the same time.

During the wedding photo shooting they produced photos, which they can give to their friends and relatives. This photo shooting implicitly at the same time made them dive into a mysterious world. They’ve had decided to be there and nowhere else. And had decided to be aware of this strange and mystical, magical garden. Probably they even don’t know anything about the history of this Chinese garden.

For me this is, metaphorically speaking, sometimes one important essence of intercultural communication, the influence of meeting somebody from another culture, from a strange culture which you rarely can understand and mentally, verbally follow. The mystical secret is that when you meet the person in his culture or in his surrounding or when you are aware of this person, even if it is a stranger, you’re part of this Chinese garden for a moment, part of this culture for a moment. You have met each other there, just being there together. No matter if you talk to each other, or understand each other.

This experience will stay in their, in your mind. I am sure, Tina and Florian will (hopefully) never forget this day, this place, this Chinese garden. Maybe years later they will ask themselves why they had gone there and not somewhere else. Maybe when they’re old they forget about their motivation having gone there. It doesn’t matter, they still have the photo and memory which, if you’re really aware of the strange situation, has become part of you.

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