After obtaining a bachelor degree in social work (1994) and a bachelor and master degree in Chinese Studies (1998), and following an intensive course in modern Chinese at Sichuan University (1999), I started to work as a freelance trainer of Chinese culture and interpreter/translator in companies (Alcatel, Bayer, BASF) and at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Later, I worked for three years for the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs as chief representative of the Netherlands Business Support Office in the North of China (Shenyang). In this period, I became very fascinated by the rapid social changes in China and by the way Chinese people deal with them. At the same time, these three years immensely increased my insight into and intuitive sense of Chinese cultural patterns, behavior, and nuances, vital for understanding the characteristically Chinese cultural, social and psychological phenomena that I study now. After my long working experience in China, I took up a teaching and research assignment at the Department of Eastern Languages and Cultures of Ghent University, where I obtained my PhD with a thesis on the popular saying Nande hutu (‘It is difficult to be muddled’) and ‘The art of being muddled’ in contemporary Chinese society (public defence in 2012).
My research now mainly deals with the philosophical, psychological and sociological dimensions of Chinese philosophies of life related to (non-)wisdom, happiness and wellbeing with a cross-disciplinary approach in anthropology and intellectual history/philosophy. My broader research interests focus on health strategies and indigenous psychology, and how they are interpreted and in contemporary society. My research is always rooted in a multi-method approach, taking interviews and surveys as starting point, and more recently, combining these with digital ethnography.
In 2014, I joined the Brussels Diplomatic Academy - VUB as a guest lecturer for the course 'Dealing with China: Intercultural management issues'.
I still regularly visit China to keep in touch with the fast and often disorienting societal changes.
At the Department of Chinese Studies at Ghent University:
Bachelor Chinese Studies for BA2 and BA3:
- listening comprehension, grammar exercises, reading comprehension, newspaper reading, practical Chinese (manuals, contracts, job application), legal texts (modern Chinese)
- supervisor and reading commissioner for BA papers
Master Chinese Studies:
- Contemporary Chinese Literature
- supervisor and reading commissioner for MA dissertations
At the Department of Special Needs Education ("Orthopedagogiek") at UGent, where I am also affiliated as post-doctoral researcher, I teach one course on body-based practices in working with youth, using phenomenological rationales as theoretical framework.
Occasional courses at Ghent University on intercultural communication and corporate culture-leadership styles with a focus on China.
I also regularly teach in other European countries often through Erasmus staff exchange programmes, and in China via bilateral agreement programmes with our partner institutes (Renmin University, Shanghai University, Nanjing University, Sichuan University, Liaoning University,...).
From 2014-2016, I taught the postgraduate course 'Dealing with China: Intercultural Management Issues' at the Brussels Diplomatic Academy of the Free University Brussels (VUB).
Reading commissioner/jury member for China-related master theses and PhD's.
Occasional expert advice to public media (TV, radio, journals, magazines...) for issues related to Chinese culture and contemporary China, e.g. EOS Wetenschap, Universiteit van Vlaanderen (see https://www.universiteitvanvlaanderen.be/college/hoe-moeilijk-is-chinees)...
Public lectures and workshops at research institutes, and all kinds of educational and cultural institutions.