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Archive for the ‘Personal China Experiences’ Category

回不回家?

每一年我想回哈尔滨看冰灯,但是孩子太小了,买四个人飞机票太贵了,工作太忙了。今年我想是不是应该带他们去看爷爷和 奶奶?我也想回去。如果明年一月份回去的话,孩子可以看哈尔滨冰灯。看看吧。。。

1_哈爾濱冰燈050

Each year I think about traveling to my husband’s home in northeastern China and seeing Harbin’s Ice and Snow Festival.   But the kids are young,  it’s a long and expensive trip, and getting time from work may not be feasible.   This year I am thinking that I ought to take the kids to visit their grandparents.  I myself would enjoy the trip.   If we go in January, it will be just in time to see ice castles and snow sculptures.   We’ll see.

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I just realized from my last post, that I spoke about my sons (Kai and Ming) and never really formally introduced them.  This pic is a bit dated, but is one of my favorites as it shows them at play.

Our household is bilingual so they understand both Chinese and English.  I think it is really important for them to be just as familiar with their Chinese roots as their African-American roots.   When they get older, should they decide to get involved in cross-border transactions, they will have full knowledge of both languages and both cultures.

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Everytime I watch this video I think about my winter Harbin wedding and how freakin’ cold it was.  I more so think about how my sons will react once they get a bit older and I take them to northern China to my visit my husband’s family.  My father-in-law really does dress and look like the older men in this video and there really are kitchens in the ground. 

The older one has been to Beijing before, but a trip to northeastern China is a totally different experience –should be fun.

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Everyone has a different path to doing business in China. As an African-American female from a small suburb in the U.S., my path was very unique. My first China experience was teaching English in Zhejiang about 10 years ago. At that time I spoke very little Chinese. Then I met my husband, and basically learned Chinese throughout the course of our relationship. I’ve never had a formal Mandarin lesson, I’ve never been enrolled in a Chinese university, and have never any Chinese family members (except for my in-laws).
Yesterday, I spoke with a fellow attorney whom is now based in China and is an American-born Chinese (“ABC”).  He is married to a Chinese woman(南风的)and has lived in Beijing for a few years now.  When we began to speak in Mandarin, he paused. “Wow, your Mandarin is even better than mine!” he exclaimed.  He mentioned how thrilled he was to meet a woman who has no other relation to China than her husband, but has really learned the art of the tones in Chinese.
It made me think of how different our paths were, but we both ended up doing something China-related. Our experiences — totally different. My perspective on how to approach a deal or arrive at a creative solution for a client is based upon my experiences and upbringing. Likewise, his approach as to how best meet a client’s need is based upon his “ABC” experience and upbringing.  This is the kind of diversity that creates a well-rounded China team.  People with different educational, cultural, and national backgrounds that have the requisite China experience are imperative in making a well-rounded team.

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Inevitably, when doing business in China you will have some downtime.   During which you can roam the city, sample local cuisines, or buy things that you probably don’t need.  My favorite and most frequented city in all of China is Beijing.  I travel there more than Shanghai because most of my business contacts are located in Beijing, but also partly because I prefer it to Shanghai.  Perhaps because I am somewhat claustrophobic and in Shanghai, the streets are very narrow and the buildings are built seemingly one right on top of another. I don’t like feeling like an ant trapped in an ant farm, and while in Shanghai, I certainly have that feeling.  Beijing on the other hand has wide streets with 5 or 6 lanes, and a very spread-out landscape, not to mention the night and day contrast among its districts and neighborhoods

 However, I recently visited Chengdu for the first time for a conference and was presently surprised.  Besides the unbelievably spicy food which I enjoyed, people in Chengdu move at a very leisurely pace (Not counting the driving in the streets, which is chaotic at best).  Compared to Beijing and Shanghai, business in Chengdu is conducted in “due time”.  The night life is riddled with what I perceive to be “free-spirited” expats and locals, whom were all very different from the crowds in Beijing and Shanghai.

Chengdu is running close second behind Beijing in my book.  And if I return to Chengdu for pleasure, I will  most certainly return to the charming Tibetan-inspired hotel with the 24-hour full service spa.

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When I lived in Zhejiang I used to play this game almost daily.  Unfortunately, I’ve forgotten how to play and am often left on the sidelines just watching.   I hate that feeling.   Similarly, the practice of law me sitting on the sidelines watching others cook up profitable business transactions.

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Beijing Winter 2004

 

Yesterday was the 4th anniversary of our U.S. wedding.  We were first married in Heilongjiang, Harbin and then a year afterwards we had a formal ceremony in the U.S.    This pic was taken in Beijing in the winter of 2005 –which explains why I am wearing 4 layers of clothing.

Although I would only tell him begrudgingly, it was my husband from whom I learned most of what I know about doing business in China.  He would gladly take the credit for teaching me Chinese as well, but I’d say I just picked that up along the way.

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