‘Look at them there, aren’t they great? The Chinese: a great bunch of lads.’ I got that quote from an Irish sitcom called Father Ted. It this episode, Ted, an Irish priest living on a remote island, has unfortunately made himself out to be racist against Chinese. In his bid to rectify this, he makes a presentation about the Chinese about how great they are, including pictures of the Great Wall, which Ted says ”So big you can see it from anywhere in the world”, Mr Miyagi from the Karate Kid film (he’s in fact Japanese) and Ming the Merciless from Flash Gordon (he’s actually criticised for being a bad stereotype about Chinese people). It is such a funny series and that particular episode was great.
Although Ted managed to get many facts wrong about Chinese people, they actually are a ‘great bunch of lads.’
They are willing to help. For instance, if you asked for directions to a person who didn’t know where it was, they will still point you in any direction. They don’t want to ‘lose face’ by admitting they don’t know where it is. This happened us quite a few times, being told completely different directions by people. However if they do know, they are extremely willing to help and guide you in the right directions. They would literally walk you to the area if they could!
They are shy. Some of my students are quite shy and it’s difficult sometimes to get them to participate in class. Yet once I make the first move and say hello, they are so excited and they literally beam! They are gradually getting less shy, because apparently in schools, if they make a mistake, they ‘lose face’ and other students will laugh at them. I have to keep reminding them that everyone makes mistakes and that everyone is equal.
They are open. But sometimes a little too open! Today, I was talking about your appearance, and one of my students decided to talk about me! He said that I am slim and I smell sweet…. I was a little taken aback but this shows how open they are. Although they would say ‘oh teacher you are so beautiful’, they could also easily remark if you were fatter than them and they wouldn’t think that offensive.
They are honest. One example I saw was when I was going to the Subway station by bus. The bus was packed with students finished college. A few more people came on the bus at the back, so because they couldn’t get to the front to pay, they give their money to the person beside them and each person helped take the money to the front of the bus. I was looking in amazement, because at home I wouldn’t trust anyone to do that! They would just pocket it. But no, all the students thought nothing of it by moving the money to the front. It was just so natural and nothing more was thought of it. I think it’s those little things that show that the majority of Chinese people are (in my opinion) a lot more trustworthy and honest than people at home.
They are reserved. The Chinese people are generally reserved. They don’t like confrontations, they are more introverted and more subdued. They don’t like to be loud, or be in your face. They would stop, look and be silent if a Western walked by them, rather than call to them or ‘wolf whistle’. I personally believe my personality fits In with a Chinese person. My roommate is the complete opposite, being extroverted and loud; the Chinese people are fascinated by her because she is so different!
Although they are reserved, they can also say things that at home we would not say to someone. For example, they would say if you had bad skin or if they perceive you to be rich. You just have to let it go over your head!
It’s also the little things that set them apart from home:
When I went to KFC and got my food, the place was packed and I couldn’t get a seat. There was a counter by the door where a woman was giving out plastic bags. She was putting the food into bags for the people who couldn’t get a seat and they could take them outside. I never saw this before. I thought it was nice to see that they helped the customers who didn’t get a seat by giving them bags to take them outside. Another thing I noticed in KFC is that the staff give customers bags before they went into the building, this is so they could put their wet umbrellas into the plastic bags. I thought that was nice. That was the first time I saw this happen so I’m not sure if it’s a universal, or Chinese thing.
The boys are quite stylish. They really do try and look well. Everything is matching and co-ordinated. There is no one wearing old runners, dirty jeans or trousers. They look respectable and fashionable.
The girls, on the other-hand, they also wear lovely dresses and they look stylish, but they do wear some short skirts! You will see hardly any girl wearing a long skirt/dress/shorts. They are above and beyond their knees. And all of them have really slim legs, so having to look at them every day makes me hate my legs!
The girls also wear shoes with wedges in them. Nearly every girl will have a wedge in their shoes to make them taller. There are plenty of tall Chinese people here, which I’m surprised about. But generally they are about my height. 5ft 3… so they aren’t that small to need wedged shoes.
The Chinese people are really lovely people. They will help you however they can, you just have to be aware of their tendency to say something that you might find offensive…and just carry on.