Jessica Beinecke gets this reaction a lot: She’s walking down the street in a Chinese city, and she’ll be recognized by one of her 400,000 Weibo followers or even one of the 40 million who have watched her videos. With platinum blonde hair and big blue eyes, the young woman who has taught Americans how to say “twerk” in Mandarin and students in China how to talk about “House of Cards” stands out.
“They’ll say, ‘Eh? Bai Jie?’ And then we’ll take a selfie,” says the 27-year-old Ohio native who takes learning a language to a whole new level.
Ms. Beinecke, known to her Chinese fans as Bai Jie (白洁), has made a name for herself since 2011 with her bright, funny and short explanations of English slang – including “twerk,” “swag,” “freaking out,” “awesome,” and “life hack,” as part of a daily Voice of America online video program called OMG Meiyu, or OMG American English.
She says she chose her name in college to sound a bit like her given name. Directly translated, bai means white and jie means “clean” or “pure,” she says. Step aside, Justin Bieber.