I was unemployed and living in an unheated room in the winter of 2006, desperate enough to buy a plane ticket to a place I couldn’t pronounce. Going to Work in China: Six Years of Cultural Adventure and Misadventure recounts in detailed observations the daily shocks, misunderstandings, frustrations, and even pleasures over six years as I held down three very different jobs in China.
Starting with the basics of how someone asking about your lunch isn't asking about your lunch, why the Chinese don't use voice mail, and polite office banter about diarrhea, the constant, hilarious cultural clashes will be illustrated and explained humorously. I taught English at Wal-Mart Global Procurement, where an assistant told me Bentonville, Arkansas, is "famous for cocks," and at the factory that made the knobs for GE dishwashers.
The most in depth I got was the year I worked in the HR department of a Chinese luxury hotel, where the purple uniform tie indicated my rank of supervisor, and only one other westerner worked there, an Australian in another deaprtment (who wore a red tie for the rank of manager). Finally I landed a job writing and editing the local English magazine, in the world of Chinese media where I learned reporters are handed envelopes of cash and became a celebrity in the diverse international expat community.
Going to Work in China: Six Years of Cultural Adventure and Misadventure is not just a vivid account of everyday life in China, but an essential account for anyone who plans to navigate this increasingly important country, as it provides a account of what to expect and what to avoid.
This is an excerpt of Chapter 3: Collapse. It describes my first class teaching English and how I almost didn’t get out alive.
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