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a tribute

This is a tribute. To China. I guess.

I want to list the positive ways in which a year of living in China has changed me.

I think it will help me to sort through things, and also come to terms with my un-American-ness.

1) I think that I have a stronger work-ethic. Americans tend to compartmentalize “work” and “play” time, whereas my Chinese friends work from 7:30 a.m.-9:00p.m., and then go home and study English for several hours, just for personal enrichment, or spend several hours making something very intricate out of paper, just for kicks. I find it very inspiring.

2) My powers of negotiation have been honed. I can appreciate the need for people to ‘save face’. If something goes wrong in America, the order of the day is to scream in the other person’s face, or demand to see a manager, while the vein in your forehead throbs with rage. In China, this will get you nowhere fast. If you shame or embarrass the person, it is all over. You have to use a calm, even tone, and talk logically and non-condemningly.

3) I have always been anti-materialism, but it is also something that is relatively hard to fight in the U.S. My Chinese friends don’t have a lot of possessions, but they still live happy, full, and productive lives. How can this be? They also really get a lot of use out of the things they have. I have seen them buy only one new outfit per season and then just wear it to death.

4) If I ever live in the States again long term, I will have a HUGE amount of compassion for ‘foreigners’. It was such a blessing every time someone helped me find the grocery store, helped me to mail a letter at the post office…everyday activities were such a challenge in the beginning because I couldn’t read, speak, or write the language. I would definitely consider housing an exchange student or sponsoring someone who was moving to the U.S.

5) This was unexpected, but I am starting to enjoy feminine things. I used to wear only shapeless clothing, but the Chinese women are SO girly, it rubbed off on me. It’s fun! I’m pretty! Tee-hee!

6) I can walk a thousand miles! Who needs a car! Bah!

7) I think that this year with only minimal dairy products (oh, cheese, how I miss you…), sugar, snacks, junk food…has only made me stronger.

8) On a related note: I LOVE RICE!!!

The list could probably go on, but I have to go to a “We Won the SARS” celebration now, with dancing and singing performances by the students. Oww oww!


Saturday, Jun. 07, 2003 at 4:00 PM

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