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led astray

January 2013

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led astray

China; part er (2) (pronounced like 'are')

There are systems in place everywhere in China.  They love their slogans.  There are table manners that are different than ours, but I didn't see anyone making a fuss over them.  I don't know what most of them are.  There are ways of doing things that are very different than the American way.  Once I adjusted, they made a lot of sense.  In a clothing store, for instance, you show the attendant whet you want, maybe try it on (over your clothes sometimes).  When you decide on a item to purchase, they give you a slip of paper that tells what the item is and how much it costs.  You bring the slip(s) to the register, pay, the clerk will stamp the slip.  You bring the stampped slip back to the clerk, who has by now folded your item neatly in a bag, and collect your goods.  You cannot go to another floor of the store before cashing out the slips of the floor you are on.  Anti-theft.  Clever.  And they believe in nap-time.  After lunch, you take a nap.  At least traditionally.  I didn't get a sense of the corporate nap ethic.  But In the govt. buildings, they play music over the speakers that people are supposed to exercise to so they stay in some shape.  Brilliant!  You couldn't get Americans to do something like that.  It might cut into profit.  Or invade their right to be weak, fat slobs.

Now that the market is expanding, many people are out to make a buck however they can.  It isn't just about cheating the foreign devils.  They cheat and exploit each other too.  Just like in America.  If you're poor, you work hard jobs for long hours and get paid peanuts.  That is if they get paid.  Migrant workers are 25% of the population in Beijing.  There's no money in farming.  Women just as much as men travel to cities to find work.  The poor housing and low wages they get are still better than what they had on the farm.  The future was nothing but, 'face to the ground, back to the sun."  Many bring some money back home to help their families.  Just as many never want to go back.  We visited a school that trains migrant women of minorities in farming provinces job skills to find work in the city.  They aren't glamour jobs, but they'll make enough to send some back home.  Teaching kindergarden, beauty salon work, post-natal care. basic computer skills for clerical work, these are the jobs they train for.  And they are happy to do it.  It means they aren't married, pregnant, and barefoot in a field.  I would love to go there and teach English.  They get English lessons twice a week for some, once a week for others.  I am seriously considering going to China to teach English when I finish my bachelors.  The pay isn't great, but they provide a place to live, and travel reimbursement if you stay a year or more.  And it doesn't hurt to know some basic Mandarin.

Ok.  There's more, but later.


I think that would be a really fantastic idea! Can I come? :D
When I was watching the Discovery Atlas thing on China (which was pretty good, btw), I remember them doing a big piece on the migrant workers. It was amazing, and a little scary, to see that aspect of American society there - seeing farmers washing windows for years and years without ever going home because it was the only way to support their family.

I think it's awesome you'd like to go there and teach English... that's a really empowering role you'd get to fill - both in helping others out, and in putting yourself in a position where after a year, you could be pretty stable financially and have a place of your own.