This morning has started out on an interesting and unexpected note…. I came into the office a little earlier than usual, since my husband had some things to do before the school opened and we usually ride in together. As usual, I texted my boss, the President of the school, to check if he would be coming into the office today.
I was greeting with the answer that he would be at the other campus all day. That being said, I went along with my normal routine of a breakfast shake and preparing for the morning meeting of the teachers and the checking of emails….. and of course… playing my music… softly… I have to get my boo-tay shake on every morning…. ….Then I got a text message from the boss….Change of plans…the Vice Mayor of Education for the City of Linhai will be arriving at the school in 15 minutes please prepare the teachers…. I was like what the ….?
In China government officials are the people with power, great power…. they can make you or break you … in a few minutes… so the relationship or (guan xi) with these types of people are very important. Kind of like the governor is coming to see you, in a way… that important. I then kicked it into high gear and told the teachers to clean up their desks, and their office… then I went down and cleaned up my boss’s office…. and called the cleaning woman to come pull the trash. I helped with the cleaning part because she moves wayyyy to slow… I will have to discuss that with my husband since he is in charge of the upkeep of the campus and buildings. (yeah, we work in the same school…. trust that is another crazy blog)
Luckily, I had decided to wear long sleeves today, so my big tattoos didn’t show. They still have a stigma in China regarding tattoos. People with tattoos are considered gangsters or members of the Chinese mafia..(even though young people get them all the time here now) … so in important meetings I cover the big ones, just in case… The ones on my hand look like Henna tats so… no problem. My boss and the Vice Mayor Cheng arrived promptly 15 minutes later and I made sure to greet them at the front door with a smile and a hand shake.
I made sure to give him “face” and my boss “face”…. My boss was singing my praises to him and I acted humble and waved them away… just saying… no-no… just a little… just a little…. (we all know that is not my personality) but as I have said many times you need to play the game.. to get ahead. I praised the city and the people in the city…. My boss even shared that my husband was Chinese….that always wins big points in China… makes you more acceptable.
When I was listening to my boss talk about me… I thought to myself …. who is he talking about …she sounds amazing…. It is so strange when you hear how other people view you…when they are talking about you to other people, especially in Chinese. It kind of made me feel that my boss really appreciates my work. (although he never says it… only demands and bitches – the arse)
I then brought them to meet my staff, I was so filled with pride when they all stood properly and I introduced them and their perspective home countries. I have a very diverse staff, which is unusual in China… I have all nationalities and only two white teachers, I know… totally unheard of in a Chinese university. That is why I tell my staff, they must be the best at what they do… to prove to the racists that it isn’t about the color of their face. The VM was totally impressed with their politeness and professionalism. Luckily, I make my staff dress in business wear everyday…. I told them… if you guys don’t look good I don’t look good… and I always need to look good. (smile) …. I have sent people home to change on occasions that I felt their clothes were not teacher appropriate. I told them all thank you so much for making me look good…. after it was over. (yes, they all gave me face….)
After having tea and discussing the different programs I started in the department, the Vice Mayor told me to … make sure I do a good job and help the school to become more popular and Linhai to be more well-known. I told him I would, not a problem. After several handshakes and head nods…he was on his way…..
It is funny that such a brief meeting, about 30 minutes, can mean so much. In meeting this guy, I have not only made my boss look good, I made the school look good, and I looked good in front of my staff… and .. I formed a relationship that could help me a lot in the future.
In China it is who you know that gets you far, and to know someone who has a lot of power in the government is a relationship you need to nurture and grow….. Hey, you never know when you need to call on your “Old Buddy” the Vice Mayor…. right?
until next time…