I used to have bad insomnia back in my college days. Really bad. One of the few things besides melatonin gummies (they are magical) that could get me to sleep was ASMR videos. 
Back then the ASMR community was super small and nothing like it is today so it felt like I had found the lost city of Atlantis. That’s how I ran across Haiying. 
Even back then her videos were way different from what I was used to seeing on YouTube. So simple and relaxing but also informative. From travel to cooking to Chinese calligraphy, she had videos about nearly everything. I’ve been subbed for a little over 6 years now and I wanted to know about her. 
I reached out. And she said yes!
So I hope you enjoy one of the most relaxing interviews I’ve ever done haha. 
LeDonna: So to start out with, I like went way back. So like your first videos, and you’ve been on YouTube for 13 years. Which is like almost the beginning. So my first question is, how did you get started on YouTube? Like what made you want to start a YouTube channel?
Haiying: The very first is a private video. And that times YouTube started so I take picture, take make a video of my son. And I teach Chinese so I made a video of my son. And then there is a Yahoo group…people doing Chinese painting. And I see other people do painting I do not need to write so many. So I do a video. It’s a bamboo painting. Everything started from there from one subscriber to Yes.
LeDonna: Over time you’ve just kind of added more and more variety of videos so it might be hard to choose. But if you had to choose what are some of your favorite videos to make?
Haiying: I think something relaxing, or something, no goal. Just to put on the camera, you can see the cameras here. And everything ready, I do my things. It’s not stressed. This is something I like. Now I do not do cooking video, because every one stay at home. Kitchen is occupied. Sometimes when there’s nobody in the middle of the night, I do my things. And why not record it? There was not a particular goal to share something. No, no, it’s mostly for my own pleasure or health.
L: So as someone who kind of makes videos or made videos without like a real goal— you know, some people are like, “Oh, I want 50,000 subscribers. I want a silver plaque.” How has it been seeing so many people just like in love with your videos? Is that something you expected?
H: No. I I still do not understand. Because my family, they do not understand. My my children knows a bit. And if I tell my family back in China they will not understand. How can you be such a just not good looking so ordinary, so ordinary, nothing special.
And this one is something that I think maybe the cultural difference. My parents never say I look good. They have high expectation. And also, if you do not have things you strive to be better on other things. So if you have a good face, maybe you’ll get a good marriage or things. But if if you are short of things, you have to develop your own ability. So this is might be something behind—inside the cultural part.
So even now, people say “Oh, you’re married to your husband, you are lucky.” And I went back to China with my husband he’s French. When I go back to China, and raise my children people will say “…So you are the nanny of the kids.” So nobody could understand that something. So I feel I’m lucky in a lot of things from my parents, just they have done enough good karma. For me to just be lucky I. I am very grateful.
L: Personally, some of my favorite videos are the ones where you did the walks through the museums. So is it kind of like no, you don’t have a goal but do you just kind of decide ‘I’m going to start doing museum walks now’ or ‘I’m going to start doing some videos in French?’
H: Okay, so here is why I start making this video. So I start doing these randomly talking. It’s because I am stressed in class. There was one student talking about, yeah, I get that. I said, Today we do Zentangle or something quiet to do it. In art, there’s no mistake, so you do a lot of doodle. And then I start to doodle, doodle, each circle become a rose. So I say, when you calm down, anything you can make into art. So this is one of those videos. So by calming down myself. And also, ‘I am not good looking.’ ‘I am not talented, talented.’ Just to think. ‘I have nothing.’ The only thing what I can do is to do the better self. So I have a second life that I am the better self.
I do not curse, usually do not curse. So I have a second life that I am the better self. I do not curse, usually do not curse. So it’s usually I do not too bad words. That is one thing. And also, there is a chance you can be your dream person, why not be that dream person, and you want to be good. So I want to be good. And people also are very kind to me that encourage this good cycle of energy.
There was one lady she was she was homebound because of the health. So every time I make video, I think maybe I can let some people who do not travel to see it. So I have done a lot of those videos without gimbal, without anything. And it was very poor quality. Still people are interested because of just to see new place. So I started to be a little bit more serious. Gimbal I never bought, my husband bought [it]. Usually guys are more serious about the materials. Yeah. So that’s how I started.
woman wearing glasses and a purple mask in front of artwork at a museum
woman wearing glasses standing in front of a building and smiling
L: Some of my other favorite videos you’ve done are your travel ones. Like I know we can’t really travel much right now because of Corona. It’s just been very difficult for me. But, was there a specific inspiration for traveling because I know it’s not everyone’s thing. Did you have something that really inspires you when you travel?
H: I like to see different places. The big tourist attraction. It is interesting. But most interesting is the street. I have a habit: take a public bus from beginning to the end. It’s usually around the city, the more I traveled place. And put her camera just to see, without camera, myself seeing it, you see the people getting on off bus, talk. And it’s the most ordinary people. And in different country it’s different group of people. Because American’s mostly people have car. So different kinds of people in Europe, in China. And in places, public transportation is more developed. So you see all kinds of people you are in it. And it’s very real.
L: So you’ve got Chinese, of course, and you’ve got French. Are there any other languages that you know, or that you’ve thought about learning? Obviously, English.
H: I used to learn Portuguese because I lived in Brazil for six months. And it’s very interesting. I already started learning French, I already speak French. So it’s all in Latin language. There is something similar. So I understand a little bit.
As far as how many new language I want, I feel language is important in using it. So I use French, because I teach art class in one or two of the class in French. [That] is one of the motivation for me to learn French. And Chinese is my language. And other languages, Italian or or Spanish. It’s very musical. Interesting. But not yet. So as I teach language, I know how difficult it takes. And a lot of time you put so much energy, you just cannot get there. The result? The return in result? That’s significant, right?
L: I think my biggest question would be throughout all these videos that you make, what’s one thing that you want people to learn or take away about your culture? Chinese language, arts? What do you hope that people really kind of internalize from the videos that you give to us and show to us?
H: We are all people. You and I can be connected. Disregard of color. When the heart is connected, there is some universal truths, universal goodness. Not to be lazy, not to steal. Some very basic honesty. Some very basic value. No matter who you vote for, no matter which Bible you read, no matter which religion there is some universal truths. Humanity beyond everything. And another thing is about, be yourself.
Your weakness is your strengths. My white hair can become my strengths. And I’m not speaking perfect English with accent. There are people who likes it. You cannot be another person better be the best of yourself or be the most unique of yourself. If they want to see pretty lady they do not come to my channel. If they want to se a lady silly, and funny, and dance, cook everything together. So, do not try too hard. Just be yourself. When you be yourself and let other people see that everything is possible.
Even blind cat will not die of starvation. There is a way; heaven give every one of us a way. Just be yourself you will find your way and that is inspiration.
I had such a wonderful time talking with Haiying. I felt so calm but also really motivated afterward, haha.
If you’d like to see the full interview you can head over to her YouTube channel.  
Also support Haiying on Skillshare! She has multiple classes available on Chinese calligraphy, watercolor painting, and more. 

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