I have learned so much about the Chinese culture during my 15 months here in China. I have been learning about China all my life. The 16 months I spent in Taiwan as a missionary was kind of like being in the first grade of learning about China. Then living in Bejing for 2 years kind of got me out of elementary school. This time I feel like I have graduated from middle school in my understanding. Really, living with the culture is the best way to really understand.
I want to share one thing that I recently learned that was a surprise to me. We went to a year end party for the company my husband is working with. We went to one of these last year, and I wrote about it then. One of the fun things they do in this party is have some party games competitions. They had several volunteers come up to the front. They had them choose an envelope that contained instructions for a task to complete. If they did the task, they would get a prize.
The first guy had a task to say a Chinese tongue twister. It was HILARIOUS! It was a long tongue twister. I took a picture of the screen, but I don't read Chinese very well. If I can post it, I will so that the chinese among you can read it. I think if you click on it, it will be easier to read.
The next guy had to go up to a woman in the audience and tell her he loved her. That sounds pretty simple, right? It was amazing how hard that was for him to do! Especially considering that he would receive a prize! He finally chose to say it to a woman who is leaving the company, and that was her last day.
The next participant was a man who was asked to walk around the stage like a female model. They had him do it over and over, but he just wouldn't really let go and walk like a girl. There is something in this culture that makes them not want to do anything embarrassing in public, even if it is all in good fun. I had never seen this before, and was really surprised to learn this.
A woman was asked to walk around the stage like a gorilla. She absolutely could not bring herself to do it. Her prize if she completed the task was an Ipad! She still could not bring herself to embarrass herself in public that way. Finally they took pity on her and told her that if she told someone she loved them, that would count. She started by yelling it out to someone who hadn't come that night. They said, "No, it has to be someone in this room." She really struggled with that! Finally she found someone that she felt safe in saying it to, and she got the prize. Really surprising!
Another thing that I have noticed recently is that some of their cultural habits are becoming normal to me. The other day I walked past a shop that was selling things like roasted duck necks, duck feet, beaks etc. I was shocked when I realized it all looked good to me. In the past I have just walked by and tried not to look because it all looked gross.
These are the kinds of things you can't learn in a book. Living here really has been an education. And my chinese has really improved too. I still have a long way to go, but I've learned a lot!