Jean-Marie Valheur

lover of history

Few people know that the German doing the Nazi salute on the podium behind black American athlete Jesse Owens, Lutz Long, would become close friends with Owens. Long lived in Nazi Germany, where everyone was told each day of the supposed superiority of the Aryan race. But he, himself, didn’t feel that way at all.

Since the 1936 Olympics, until the days of WWII, Long and Owens exchanged letters. Even when Long was sent off to war, fighting in North Africa and Sicily, the two men still wrote to each other, checking in on one another, as they wrote of their wives, their families, hopes, fears and loves.

In North Africa in 1943, in the desert, Lutz Long wrote his final letter to Jesse Owens. A man he called his brother. His last ever known words, and they are haunting:

I am here, Jesse, where it seems there is only the dry sand and the wet blood. I do not fear so much for myself, my friend Jesse, I fear for my woman who is home, and my young son Karl, who has never really known his father.

⁣My heart tells me, if I be honest with you, that this is the last letter I shall ever write. If it is so, I ask you something. It is a something so very important to me. It is you go to Germany when this war done, someday find my Karl, and tell him about his father. Tell him, Jesse, what times were like when we not separated by war. I am saying—tell him how things can be between men on this earth.⁣⁣

If you do this something for me, this thing that I need the most to know will be done, I do something for you, now. I tell you something I know you want to hear. And it is true.⁣ That hour in Berlin when I first spoke to you, when you had your knee upon the ground, I knew that you were in prayer.⁣⁣ Then I not know how I know. Now I do. I know it is never by chance that we come together. I come to you that hour in 1936 for purpose more than der Berliner Olympiad.

And you, I believe, will read this letter, while it should not be possible to reach you ever, for purpose more even than our friendship.⁣ I believe this shall come about because I think now that God will make it come about. This is what I have to tell you, Jesse.

I think I might believe in God.⁣  And I pray to him that, even while it should not be possible for this to reach you ever, these words I write will still be read by you.

Your brother,


Jesse Owens received the letter, but by this time his friend and brother Lutz had been transferred to Sicily. He died defending it during the Allied invasion. More than thirty years after the war, an elderly Jesse Owens traveled to Germany and found Karl Long, the son of his best friend.

That’s Karl and Jesse Owens in the picture above. Jesse Owens kept his promise to his best friend. To see his son. To tell him about the father he never knew. To tell him of their friendship. To tell him father was a good man. A brave man and honorable man. Jesse Owens, himself, died shortly after meeting Karl.



Observations on Interpersonal Relationships and Emotional Connections Between East and West – Cultural Context and Differences- Part One -by Holden -Yang 杨泓之-June 4, 2024- by Billy’s Request

When comparing the experiences of making friends in China and America, one immediately notices the profound differences in cultural context, social norms, and underlying philosophies of life. These differences have historically been vast, akin to a great chasm, although in recent years, some aspects have shown signs of convergence. However, the differences remain significant overall.

Collectivism vs. Individualism

China, with its millennia-old cultural traditions and the guidance of the ruling party, places a strong emphasis on collectivism. In this context, the interests and needs of individuals often take a back seat to the needs of the group. This is reflected in social interactions, where the sense of personal boundaries may not be as strong, and privacy is sometimes not fully protected. Personal lives can sometimes be interfered with, which is one reason why some people choose to immigrate to the United States.

However, this state of affairs is not without its advantages. The blurring of personal boundaries often comes with a strong sense of human connection. For those who find themselves lonely or emotionally isolated, the Eastern style of interpersonal warmth can offer more external intervention and emotional support.

 Loneliness in America

In stark contrast, American culture highly values individualism, with a deep respect for personal boundaries and privacy. However, this can sometimes lead to an environment where emotional and cultural desertification exists. Despite frequent social interactions and polite exchanges, many people may feel a profound sense of loneliness. This is especially true when facing life’s challenges; the feeling of helplessness and having no close friends to turn to can be overwhelming. This phenomenon is supported by recent statistics, which indicate that loneliness is a significant issue in the United States. According to a study, [a certain percentage of Americans report feeling lonely](https://www.cigna.com/static/www-cigna-com/docs/about-us/newsroom/studies-and-reports/combatting-loneliness/cigna-2020-loneliness-report.pdf).

For new immigrants, the challenge of loneliness is even greater. Many Chinese immigrants bring their elderly parents to live with them in America. However, a considerable proportion of these elders struggle with the language barrier and cultural differences, including the challenges posed by different social interactions, ultimately giving up on life in the United States due to loneliness.

 Personal Experience and Challenges

My family’s experience highlights the stark differences in interpersonal relationships between China and America. During the period when cases of Asian hate were rising, we faced harassment and harm from our white neighbors. This led to health damage issues and significant financial losses. Despite these challenges, we found it difficult to find friends who could truly support us in our daily life, underscoring the sense of isolation and helplessness in a society that values personal boundaries perhaps too much. ( This story will be shared in a subsequent article – Part Two. )

It is obvious that, while both cultures have their strengths and weaknesses in terms of making friends and forming interpersonal relationships, the fundamental differences remain vast. Understanding and navigating these differences can be crucial for anyone trying to build meaningful connections in either context.




集体主义 vs. 个人主义








 Holden Yang 杨泓and Children

Dedicated father of two young children, serving as a volunteer coach for his son’s soccer practice and daughter’s gymnastics practice. Passionate about community involvement as an AYSO volunteer referee. An experienced entrepreneur and consultant with a strong background in IT and business development. Extensive experience as an investment advisor and research director, committed to fostering cross-border business growth and collaborations.


Peking University – Studied under China’s most renowned economist, gaining a profound understanding    of economic theories and applications.

Stanford University -Visiting Scholar – Engaged in advanced research and academic collaboration, gained knowledge and expertise in international economics

PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE: -**Consultant**- **Investment Advisor**

Provided strategic consulting services to Chinese enterprises seeking financing and mergers in the U.S. market.

Assisted American companies in expanding into Asian markets, leveraging deep insights into cross-cultural business practices