As Chinese experts-in-making, we are currently in the last stage of our journey in the Middle Kingdom and close to gain the black belt in China-Europe business competencies, even though cross-cultural knowledge is a lifelong learning, as we all know.
Just as our fellow students in Belgium, we were preparing a project that contributes to the society we live in as well.
For the past months, we spent our days (and nights) on researching intensively about the Chinese market, its cultural implications and future opportunities for this huge country, that has such a great (and very complex!) root in traditions, history and Confucian mindset.
Our gained insights and own experiences in Shanghai influenced our project scope to the extend, that we wanted to contribute to one huge goal on the Communist party agenda: rising up the education level for 1.7 billion people to conduct the next “great leap forward” to an advanced economy and a society with a growing middle class. (Of course, Chinese children are also super sweet to engage with, which probably also had an impact on our project scope.)
During our time here, we encountered that sharing culture and broadening your own horizon is the basis for cross-cultural tolerance and appreciation. No matter which HSK language level you achieved, showing curiosity and taking a positive perspective to strange / unknown cultures is the best recipe for successful communication and collaboration. Referring to current global politics, we can see that this skill is often lacking and therefore we wanted to emphasize on its relevance and necessity.
A different culture...
Furthermore we felt the openness of the new Chinese generation towards other cultures, languages and values outside the great (fire-) wall.
As a culturally diverse group with six nationalities, we saw the opportunity to promote these values to the young Chinese generation and provide the students with an entertaining way to study English and share insights about our home countries and the Chinese experiences abroad.
To make this project come to life, we met in the morning of the 9th of June with the teacher from the hosting Chinese school and headed to the venue together.
Since the previous lessons were not over yet, we used this time to prepare our presentations and to rehearse for our demanding audience. Soon the class was filled with young Chinese pupils, dressed in school uniforms which are essential for schools in China.
The English teacher introduced us and rose expectations – no pressure! Then came our time to shine when the presentations started, as the teacher passed the floor to us.
Each one of us worked on a presentation, including quizzes, fun facts and cultural questions on our respective home countries. Therefore, we prepared 6 presentations: Czech Republic, Germany, Italy, Ukraine, France and studying in Europe presented by our Chinese classmates.
Each presentation was meant to present each country’s culture and introduce the students to its specialties in a fun and interactive way. Moreover, some of us tried to add globalization and cultural exchange topics since these subjects were currently studied by the Chinese pupils.
The Czech presentation introduced the country to the students who did not know a lot about it and talked about the car industry and famous Czech citizens. Then Germany emphasized on its famous people such as Einstein, Schumacher and the Deutsche Elf, how they call their “Fußball Mannschaft”. Italy aimed at familiarizing students with its romantic cities such as Venice, Rome and Torino and the tasty culinary and not to forget export hits such as Ferrari and the globally famous pizza. The presentation on Ukraine underlined some key facts about the country and talked about the current China-Ukraine relations. We pursued with the presentation on France about which many students already knew about. It aimed at mentioning some cultural facts from the fantastic French cuisine to well-known buildings in Paris. Finally, we wrapped up with the last presentation given by our Chinese classmates who shared their experience abroad, including some cultural shocks they encountered while studying in Europe. No worries, we made sure that the students still feel encouraged to discover the European continent!
Throughout the event, the students were very curious about the various countries presented and the facts highlighted. They had fun participating on the quizzes and the interactions added fun to the school setting. The students were interested to gain new insights and seemed happy listening to these presentations made by foreigners, which also highlighted the importance of learning English. At the end of the day, all of us were delighted about the event and managed to exchange the various cultures. The teacher, who co-organized the event, was very pleased as well and suggested organizing it again next year to promote the cooperation between cultures on a global level.
So dear CEB 2018, be prepared that we established already some guangxi for you!
By Alice Verguin, Ivan Tkachenko and Paulina Tegtmeyer