Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Etiquette Class for the Chinese

There was an amusing news clip today about how the Chinese government is teaching etiquette to its citizens. With the Olympics coming this summer, Chinese leaders want the world to be impressed by the sophistication of the Chinese people (which was totally lost during the cultural revolution). In a country where we debate the proper behaviour of our dogs, comparatively, the Chinese are working on some human basics:
- Let people off the bus first before loading
- Do not spit on the sidewalk
- Do not blow your nose on the sidewalk without a Kleenex (disgusting..they even showed this on the news)
FUNNY STORY: A few years ago, my husband was invited to speak at the annual Chinese Designer Showcase in Shenzhen, China. We were actually there with two french couture designers..I need to look these guys up sometime (more stories to follow about their experience). While my husband was speaking and it was being translated, cell phones in record numbers, were ringing and conversations were being conducted. In most situations, one person's cell phone goes off in a speech, they leave in embarrassment, not here...it was the norm.

We were also invited to a elegant, formal dinner with all the fashion leaders in China. I was placed next to the editor of Vogue China and his model girl friend. We felt a little like celebrities.. if I had known that people would be taking my picture, I would have definitely dressed better. My husband was photographed as well and many young Chinese women came up and said.."Mr. A. so handsome". I said "They are probably the gals sewing your garments in the factories...of course you are great". Anyway, the interesting thing about the evening is that we were excited about a traditional formal Chinese dinner. To our surprise, the dinner was totally western fare right down to the silverware. The Chinese are so historically elegant and detail oriented, but for some reason, a small detail was overlooked... many of the people at this fancy affair were not familiar eating with silverware. Even though the Chinese may be laughing all the way to the bank, this evening was not their best work.
LESSON: "To Thine Own Self Be True" -- William Shakespeare


suburban prep said...

My sister and BIL lived and worked in Shenzen for close to 5 years. They returned in 2000 because my sister was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkins but she is 6.5 yrs out from a bone marrow transplant now.
I have a brother who still lives over there with his wife who is from China and their 1 yr old little girl.
My sister and BIL adopted a little girl from China almost 4 yrs ago. They know the language and are trying to keep her in touch with her culture.

Pink Preppy Party Girl said...

Sorry to hear about your sister and glad that she was able to get a bone marrow transplant. We love China and had been there a few times. It is wonderful that your brother and sister were able to adopt two little girls. I bet it is a great experience to live there.

Anonymous said...

Good for them! I think everybody from all walks of life can benefit from practicing proper etiquette.

The Mrs. said...

I think we need regular etiquette classes in the US!