We have visited several companies and cool tourist places, but we do not have any interaction with Chinese families. Before, visiting Professor Si and her family was a part of our trip, not anymore since Professor Si left. However, I would like to share some interesting story of my family.
First, I almost forget there is the kind of cold called “your mom thinks you are cold”. My home town is 2 hours away from Beijing by high speed train, and the weather is just like Beijing. But my mom must think we live in the North Pole. She wouldn’t let me go out if I didn’t wear two pairs of long-johns under my pants, and she would chase me around house to put more layers on me, which is pretty funny to me.
Second, some Chinese families still prefer baby boys to baby girls, especially older generations. When I was born, my grandparents were unhappy about having a granddaughter instead of a grandson, they suggested to my parents that they took me to the country side where they lived and raised me secretly (because China’s one child policy was strict during that time), so my parents could have another kid, hopefully a son. Fortunately, my dad refused immediately.
Third, my parents did spank me when I was young!!!!!!!!!! The worst one I remember is when I was in first grade, my mom spanked me with a bamboo stick and I got welts all over my behind and the back of my legs for a week, after that my parents never spanked me again. I remember what happened was: my mom gave me 100RMB to buy something, and there was a sale going on so the thing cost 90RMB, I bought good snacks with rest of the money without telling my mom, and she found out later and was pretty mad………you know rest of the story……..piang!piang!piang!
Though saying goodbye to Beijing felt bittersweet. We’d stayed long enough to catch a glimpse of it, feel the overwhelming magnitude of it, to even have a favorite dumpling spot; but not long enough to know it, or to know where to get the best pancakes. To close our time in Beijing we visited two companies. Two differing companies yet similar companies.
From both companies it became very apparent that when it comes to international business language is key. One of the individual we spoke to said to us: language is the way to the heart of the people. A small part of me was aware of the barrier that language can be. However, having the general manager of a company tell you that to do business in China they’d hire a Chinese Engineer who not only spoke the language but also understood the culture over a foreigner makes it more real. A big part of it is localization, which I think in the long run would allow not only the company, but also the country to grow. Even beyond the workplace, simply navigating the subway could be quite stressful (I thank God for the occasional English translation). As well as making friends or just connecting with the company’s clients on a personal level, language has a way of bringing people together. You see this as we are quick to turn our heads towards any English speaker we pass, saying hello or wondering where they are from, be it the United States or Poland, feeling a sense of comradery.
Furthermore, you also see how culture strongly affects business here. Ignorance of the Chinese culture would make it impossible to understand why someone does one thing over another. You see the difference in culture more apparently in the way we dine together, more family style versus individual platters at high end restaurants. Similarly when multinational companies choose to build a business here the point isn’t to work around the culture or change it, but to adapt to it, make changes to accommodate for differing cultural sentiments without losing one’s values. Ensuring that the company doesn’t lose sight of its principles seems to be a challenge encountered by Christian companies here in China; nevertheless, it is doable.
As we say “Zài jiàn” to Beijing and “Ni hao” to Shanghai. We hope to continue to grow our understanding and knowledge of the language and culture.
Today we visited three other great tourist’s sites: The Great Wall, the Ming Tomb, and the Nest. These past couple of days have been filled with learning about China’s rich history. With written records dating as far back as 1200 BC, we quickly learned that China has definitely got many, thousands of, years on the United States. Seeing the Great Wall, which runs about 6,000 km, today was another reminder of the majesty that is ancient China. Simply walking the one to two miles that we did was a feat itself, now to imagine building the sections that made up the wall as a whole is simply remarkable. We were in the Mutianyu section, which is about 90 km from Beijing. The whole excursion up and then back down was fun, but definitely taxing on even our young and fit bodies.
Our next stop, the Ming Tomb. As we walked through the excavated tomb, we noticed, once again, that this was not a small building; like the other projects we’d visited, the tomb was also large and very detailed. It was interesting to see that many visitors to the tomb before us had thrown money at different sites, like the coffin of the emperor and his empress as an act of good luck, or simply because; maybe similar to how one would toss a coin into a fountain. There are 13 Ming tombs in all, we only visited one of the tombs. The location of these tombs were once kept secret in other to prevent looting of the burial site because the Emperors were often buried with their wealth.
We ended our day with a delicious meal. Served family style, which is how most meals are served here in China, we enjoyed duck and the company new friends and old alike.