I spent an engrossing afternoon at
Tsinghua is across the road from
The point we agreed on is that neither overly critical reporting nor boosteristic business writing tells people in the West about the real
A phrase I hear from Chinese friends, from expats, and even from Tom last week is, â€œThis is
Iâ€™m also recognizing that even with people I communicate well, thereâ€™s a gap in understanding based on two things: (1) a lack of knowledge about the ways in which our life experiences, past and present, are different, and (2) insufficient language skills. The former seems obvious, but where are the tools or media to help us gain better understanding of the other personâ€™s experiences? Watching â€œOffice Spaceâ€ or â€œ24â€ wonâ€™t help a Chinese person understand imagine their American colleagueâ€™s working life. And what means do we have of understanding our Chinese colleaguesâ€™ life experience?
Language skills are another major issue, because we need to be able to have serious, nuanced conversations about complicated topics. But that requires sophisticated language skills in a second language on the part of at least one person, not just basic or even business-proficient skills. I have had quite subtle conversations in Spanish, struggling the whole way, so I have a sense of how this is different from ordinary information exchanges. I feel badly because I know I will always have to depend on my friendsâ€™ and colleaguesâ€™ English here, but all the more certain that Chinese language teaching is immensely important, and that all joint ventures and collaborations between English and Chinese speakers should actively seek to improve language skills on both sides.
And I can’t resist including this photo of what seemed to be a wedding party walking across campus, the bride wearing sneakers and a Western wedding dress (Chinese wedding dresses are bright red). This, too, is China.