Beer Events & Bus Rides

My life inside and outside of the office has been getting better every day. I feel completely comfortable with my surroundings and the people I am with. I have been with my company a little over two weeks now, and I am already feeling the impact I have made. I recently created a portfolio of case studies on the popular Chinese breweries that we compete with to get our products into venues all over the city. I made a section of specific suggestions on how this company can compete with the opposing businesses and get our products into the hands of consumers. My supervisor was impressed and found my insights extremely helpful when working with the sales team. Additionally, I have just created templates for almost ten promotional events Vandergeeten can put on at the numerous bars we have partnerships with. This is something I exceeded in due to my event planning/management background, and I am anticipating being able to explain these to my supervisor next week and help her implement some during my time here. Next week I will also be attending an outside event to sell and promote a variety of our brands. (Remember the 19-year-old billionaire?)

I have four weeks left to learn and grow at Vandergeeten, and I will be working towards accomplishing both personal and company goals. I want to assist in the planning and implementation of a promotional event for one of our major brands. Additionally, I hope to gain more insight on the way business is conducted in the beer industry, especially in an international setting. Lastly, I want to build relationships with the Chinese salesmen and learn from their experiences and everyday work. This poses to be the most difficult task, as they barely speak English; however, I have picked up some Mandarin already and am practicing everyday with my English-speaking coworkers. I know these goals are all possible if I continue to work beyond my role, form meaningful relationships and put forth my passion with everything I do. My motto is to embrace every moment. Nothing here is insignificant.

Outside of the office, I am soaking up the Chinese culture and feeling a deep appreciation for the people. Oddly enough, this feeling hit me on a crowded, sweaty bus ride after work. Being the only American in a sea full of Chinese is not uncomfortable for me. They all probably look at me and think, “Why is this girl just smiling?” I cannot help but wear a huge smile on my face when I get on a bus and get stared at. I stand at an open area in the aisle and just get stared at, from head to toe. But it isn’t a judgmental stare. When I feel them staring for a long time, I look at them and they smile. But it isn’t a fake smile like you would get in America when someone gets caught staring. It’s a genuine Chinese smile, something I have grown to love. I turned around on the bus the other day to see a young brother and sister in their elementary school uniforms, looking tired and lifeless. I made eye contact with the boy and his face got the giddiest grin. I watched him poke his sister and say “meiguo ren” which means American. They looked at me and smiled, and I smiled back. I don’t feel the hatred people claim the Chinese have towards us. They are intrigued by us, and maybe they don’t understand us, but they definitely don’t hate us. And Americans definitely don’t understand them.

I go to the same noodle bar at least once a week. The man that owns it remembers me because the first time I went, I ordered by pointing at a picture that looked good, having no idea what it was. The only English word he could make out was “Spicy!” and I laughed and nodded my head yes. I ended up loving that dish & returning frequently after. Every time I go back, he raises his arms in the air and laughs, maybe out of appreciation for my returning business. He gives me free waters or sodas and always sends me back with bags full of free samples of his newest noodle dish or soup concoction. He seems so happy giving it to me for free. His kindness makes me feel at home, as if I’m not in a foreign nation. At this point, I don’t know if I keep returning for that meal, or for that man. He has become a friend, and he doesn’t have to understand me to display his kindness. That’s a difference I feel here. They might not understand me, but they show me love anyways. I’m not sure most Americans would do the same.

I’m not saying all Americans are bad. I believe there is good in everyone and I know so many kind people in this world, but it is very different here than how many perceive it. Maybe differences are only different because of a lack of understanding and appreciation.

–This is a picture I took the second day I was here. This woman wanted me to take a picture with her and all of her family members and just kept smiling at me with pure happiness. At that time, I thought this was an extremely nice woman. I now know that’s just the Chinese spirit, and she was the first to show me it. —

Alex friend

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