The 24-year-old host of OMG Meiyu, a trendy, cross-cultural English teaching feature produced by Voice of America’s Mandarin Service, has become an overnight sensation in China, where viewers are flocking to social media sites to see her idiomatic lesson called Yucky Gunk.
More than 2-million people have now clicked on Jessica Beinecke’s quirky videos, which teach Chinese speakers about common English expressions used by young Americans. Yucky Gunk, one OMG Meiyu feature (in Mandarin “meiyu” means American English), has been viewed more than 1.4 million times.
“This particular subject was user-generated,” Jessica says, “But it’s really intimidating, the thing has gone viral. It took weeks for the show to get to a million total hits, then one week later, we’ve passed 2-million. Now I have to find ways to keep it fun.”
Jessica, whose work on a travel feature was honored by the Association for International Broadcasting last year, says, “We wanted to create an interactive social media platform for the OMG Meiyu travel show so that we can start conversations that help our Chinese audience better understand American culture.”
Jessica and her co-worker Yuyang Ren, write, host, and produce monthly OMG Meiyu English-teaching travel shows for the China Branch of VOA, showcasing what they describe as “the coolest people and places in America.”
VOA Director David Ensor calls Jessica’s work on OMG “a wonderful example of a simple but well-done program that builds cross-cultural dialogue and offers our audience the kind of information they want.”
Jessica became fascinated with Mandarin as a university student in Ohio. She shoots OMG at home on an aging personal computer, then edits the segments into short packages that are posted five days a week on popular Chinese websites, including Youku and Weibo, China’s version of Twitter.
Jessica says one of the things she likes the most about OMG is that the audience gets to participate, “they suggest topics all the time, we will never run short of ideas, and when we use an audience suggestion we mention it on Weibo, so fans always get credit.”