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Thursday, February 12, 2015

Foreign Expert, Take I . . .

Having been an expat for so long, in so many countries, I find it interesting to compare how foreign professionals are treated in each, and how we are referred to.

In Korea, where I have worked the longest, I was considered a "Registered Alien" and had an ID card to prove my status. And, when I think about it, that's how we were often treated. I mainly got along well with my colleagues and employers and was treated well, but there was always a sense that Koreans were more important and so were their opinions.

Here in China, I have become a "Foreign Expert," and the standard of treatment gels with the more respectful term. President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang have identified the need to learn from the best practices of the developed world and the government has very active programs to recruit talented people from abroad.

We even have complete departments set up to make life easier for us, including the State Administration of Foreign Experts, which often arranges special events for international staff.

One such last week was the 2015 Spring Festival Celebration for Foreign Experts, when we were invited to Bihai Hillside Resort beside Lake Jinhai for the day. We arrived to find experts in traditional arts and crafts set up to demonstrate and teach such skills as tying traditional knots, painting masks and paper cutting, then were treated to performances and an extensive banquet.

It was an enjoyable day in a beautiful setting to which I plan to return when the weather is warmer and the lake has thawed.

Arriving at the resort

Looking out at Jinhai Lake

an exquisitely painted mask

a master of Chinese knot work who teaches at the
Central Institute of Arts and Crafts in Beijing
a student teaches me to knot a bracelet

finished work (not mine)
a master of egg painting

finished products
learning young
paper cutting
a friend blows the animal of her birth year from sugar
another friend and colleague is on the receiving end of an interview