Ever since he was a young boy, Gweltaz Oliviero has always had an interest in Asia, so it’s no wonder that Gweltaz has now been living in Asia for over 15 years. We sat down to ask him about his life, and what it’s like to have lived abroad for so long.

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For such a long time, teaching the French language has been an important part of Gweltaz’ life. Growing up in Brittany, located in the northwest of France, French was his first language, and from there he developed a passion for it that he wanted to share. During his Master’s programme, his supervisor was working in Mexico, which led Gweltaz to his first teaching job abroad. He taught in Mexico for a year before heading to Japan.

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In Japan, Gweltaz taught in a private language school. He ended up spending about five years there before looking for positions elsewhere. He sent out resumes, and UIC caught his eye, as they were looking for a French lecturer at the time. When he first came to UIC, he wanted to try something new by working in a college. Gweltaz especially likes how Zhuhai is casual and laid back with good weather.


Gweltaz ended up staying in China, at UIC, for much longer than he originally anticipated, and just this past year, was a recipient of the long term service award, recognizing his tenth year working at UIC. Gweltaz said he really appreciated the gesture, and it was nice to be recognized. He loves the environment at UIC, especially the great students he gets to teach. He mostly teaches French at the beginner’s level so gets to work with many students learning French for the first time.

During his time at UIC, Gweltaz has noticed that the students have changed. He comments that they seem to keep improving, and are travelling much more than before.

French was always a popular subject at UIC. All Year One students have to take a foreign language, and there are three levels of French available to the students. There is also a French club, which he and his colleague, Sophie Dubois-Pepin, advise and consult for. They usually hold two activities per semester such as French movie screenings and tea parties. He mentions how lucky he is that for the past ten years he has a very good workmate, Sophie. They get along extremely well, and if it wasn’t for that he might not be here so long.

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Gweltaz posing in a group photo while in Japan

He encourages the students to study abroad. Many of them will go on to do a Master's in France, not necessarily in French, mostly at renowned business schools. He loves learning from the students. They are so hardworking and respectful. He is proud of how many young people he has been able to teach. When they take a French course with him, they not only learn the language, but also the French culture as well as a different way of thinking. Bringing this knowledge to the students makes him proud.

In his spare time, Gweltaz enjoys photography and surfing, and there are some good places to surf nearby which he likes. He started surfing in Japan, which has the highest ratio of surfers to population in the world. Gweltaz has travelled to some of the big cities in China, and loves to take photos when he travels. His favourite place to visit was the Gobi Desert because it was very different and beautiful.

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Gweltaz didn’t have much interest in China before, but he is happy that he has ended up here and proud that he can stay open to new things. He had to adapt to the culture in China, which was a culture shock from Japan. He arrived in China alone, and didn’t love it at first but it grew on him. He likes Zhuhai a lot and plans to stay for the time being. He likes how Zhuhai is always changing. Gweltaz says, “The time has gone really fast, and Zhuhai keeps getting better and better.”

Reporter: Samantha Burns
Editor: Samuel Burgess
Photograph submitted by Gweltaz Oliviero
(from MPRO)