Beijing - 8
During the week, of mandarin lessons, we had a cultural exchange with Chinese students who learning English along side their careers. These particular students were from a national construction company (I believe, the language barrier made it difficult to understand)
The session started off with introductions from both sides. Several people got up and spoke about, who they were, where they studied, what they like about China/England. Some of the English attempted to speak Chinese but this was generally greeted by laughter from the Chinese as clearly the pronunciation was not very good…The Chinese all spoke in English — with mixed levels of competency.
All of the Chinese really wanted to meet us. We spoke about British music, food, TV shows and general cultural. The majority of them hadn’t left China so were really interested. I learnt a lot about their lives. Most of them were single children having grown up near to Beijing and been learning English since their equivalent of primary school.
One of the girls, Katherine, took a particular fancy to me. She quickly came to talk to me and was very forward: calling me handsome, asking if I had a girlfriend and seeing what I was doing in the evening. I politely declined having already made plans for that evening. Lots of the guys have been called handsome here. There are so little Westerners here, it’s a change from Chinese men.
As part of the exchange, we had to perform to each other. Part of the group is Irish so the obvious choice for them was to perform an Irish dance, despite only one of them being able to do it. Led by the one competent dancer, they surprisingly managed to pull a half decent performance out of the bag!
We, the British group, decided to sing Wonderwall by Oasis. The reasoning behind this was that nearly everyone our age knows the song and frequently sing it (commonly at the end of nights out). Someone borrowed a guitar and before you knew it, we had everyone singing along (Unfortunately I cannot find the video evidence right now — I may upload it at a later date)
At the end of the week, it was time for my graduation. After a fantastic week of learning, we received certificates from the University.The Huawei media team were on hand to take several photos of us. When I say several, I actually mean hundreds…It seemed like we were in a constant lighting storm.
The week was a fantastic way to get an introduction into China and learn about its culuture and language. I’m very grateful for our lovely teacher for teaching us Chinese, putting up with dodgy pronunciation and answering constant questions about Chinese culture.