This past week, my peers and I attended a presentation on China’s culture, history, government structure, and business practices in preparation for our two-month internship abroad in Beijing. I will be working for Pico Event Management and I am so excited to be challenged in this new environment.
An aspect of Chinese culture that resonated with me is their focus on history as an influence on the present. Most of the segments of Chinese culture have some tie to practices of the past. For example, Confucianism, founded in the 5th and 6th centuries B.C., was the main school of thought in China and even though devote Confucianism has become less prominent, some Confucian ideals are still evident in the way the Chinese act. Confucius emphasized a structured society with everyone knowing their roles. This means to trust the government and those in power, to know your place in a family or business culture, and to not stick out too much. I find this surprising because Americans aim to find success through fame or fortune, but to the Chinese, “The nail that sticks out shall be hammered down.” There is a sense of collectivism in China, while Americans value individualism.
As far as cultural similarities, Americans and the Chinese value punctuality. As an intern (working either in America or in China), this means that I need to show up early for the work day. I will have to practice time management to be successful in any job. However, this punctuality value only matters for lower level employees. In China, I will need to get used to waiting on my top supervisors.
I am thankful for this week of a crash course in Chinese culture because I feel more prepared than ever. (Also, this week was the first time I felt more excited than nervous to be traveling to the other side of the world!) I think by understanding that the Chinese practice modestly will influence my behavior in and outside the workplace. I will spend more time listening and learning than I will spend talking without much thought. I will need to tune my work place relationship skills to focus more on collectivity and humility. And, as mentioned before, I will leave plenty of time in my schedule to make sure I am on time for every meeting, whether it be at work, or to meet friends to visit a cultural site in the city. I can’t believe we depart in less than two weeks!