My initial impression of Beijing is that, for the most part (maybe excluding taxi drivers), the Chinese are eager to accommodate foreign visitors and make them feel special. The Chinese seem to find Westerners intriguing and they seem to be perplexed by the way that we carry ourselves and communicate with others. This is exactly the way that most Westerners feel about the Chinese – so the feeling is mutual!
During an undeniably noteworthy experience in the hospital, I really saw these ideas come to life by the way that I was treated. The chief of the ER knew that I was American, and therefore wanted me moved into my own room instead of bunking with four other people with ailments. In addition, the nurses were all eager to get to know me and to help me learn new words in Chinese. The nurses and doctors also did things for me that they did not do for other patients, like making the bed and cleaning my arm. I really felt the effects of mianzi in the sense that the hospital staff wanted me to have a positive (if at all possible with two venomous snake bites) perspective of Chinese health care practices and service. Ideally, in the event that I blindly accepted my treatment as the norm, I would have wonderful things to say about the hospital and their unparalleled service during my time of need to everyone I meet.
Not to say that the care and consideration was completely ingenuine and therefore unappreciated; it is just so fascinating that the people of China really go out of their way to give their country a good face – it’s kind of patriotic in a way. In America, I feel that actions like this are not taken to make the country look like a welcoming place for outsiders. I am excited to see how this concept of mianzi continues to reveal itself in other experiences throughout my time here in Beijing. I am also excited to continue building guanxi with all of my new friends on WeChat that I obtained through my hospital stay!