I must admit that when I was much younger I was particularly prejudice against the Chinese from China and China itself. The news reporting China women flew to Singapore and hooked up with elderly Singapore men for their retirement funds and citizenship distorted my impression of them. News like guys peeing in tourist attractions, mothers allowing their kid to poop on the busy street, crude way they shout and the need to always clear their throat of phlegm served to increase my dislike in them.

You may find it strange as I am a Chinese but like my earlier post, I am a Singaporean Chinese with my direct roots from Singapore. Heck, I don’t even study China history, in fact, I studied the World War I and II. My brush with Chinese history comes from television series and movies. With almost zero direct contact with the Chinese, I stuck to my conviction that China is a horrible uncouth country.

Screen Shot 2015-10-31 at 1.48.39 pmWhen I first led a team of phone sales representatives with majority from China, my well-meaning friends cautioned me to be fierce, demanding and strict to them. “Don’t be soft and smiley otherwise they’ll climb all over your head before you know it” was their advice to me. I was apprehensive because I can’t be myself. And when I can’t be myself, I can’t perform my best. I am not a strict manager and I am definitely not a fierce one, I can be demanding but only within reasons. I was tensed the first week and I was miserable the first week of taking that team. That was when I decided just to be myself and I’ll just cross the bridge when they take advantage of me.

Oh my!

Not only was my fears and prejudice was unfound, I am shameful to have those thoughts in the first place. They are perfectly nice, hardworking and clever folks. They are not uncouth or rude, neither do they spit and curse. Happily after 3 months, I reported back to my well-meaning friends that I enjoyed working with them so much and we often have meaningful exchange on the differences between my country and theirs. They were skeptical but I know I am no longer wary of them and in fact, I became not only their leader but their advisor and their friend. When they need advice on any Singapore matters, I am always ready to provide them with advises and directions, whether it is regards to their work permit or visa applications or housing issue or even food.

u=1696007985,2129509287&fm=21&gp=0Then my company decided to relocate me to Shanghai. Again, my well-meaning friends cautioned me that the Chinese folks I coached in Singapore are all highly educated and will be vastly different from those I will meet in China, plus in Singapore, I’m in home ground but when I’m in China, I no longer have that advantage. Actually, my friends went “Whyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy China?????” They thought I would choose to go some sexier locations like America or UK or Europe or Japan. But this time round, I’m not prejudice or afraid because I have a team of expert advisors on China. My Chinese team.

I could go on and on what I have learnt in Shanghai as a foreign manager but that will have to wait for later posts. I could write on all day! The first time round, I opened my eyes and got rid of my tinted eyes. This time round, I opened my heart and embraced China. I learnt so much more from the locals and being there means I have to put in extra effort to blend in and understand their culture, their behaviors and their thoughts. The colored news I saw doesn’t represent the whole country and their people. China has 1.3 billion people, the news probably exaggerated like they always do. When in a bigger country, there is always an issue of safety. Same in China, same in America, same in Europe. In fact for the two years in China, I was very safe and while in France, I got robbed!!

Screen Shot 2015-10-31 at 1.47.45 pmI may not approved of and dislike their spit, shouting over their mobile phones, scams and yes, excreting on the pavement right in front of me but I understand. And understanding comes tolerance and patience. Ever since I came back with an open heart, I have been patiently explaining to people not to see the world with tinted view because the biggest loser will be themselves when they make decisions based on that view. Instead, try to make decisions by asking people who are subject matter experts. I could have given up so much so much more if I had refused to take up the lead of the Chinese team and gave up the opportunity to move to Shanghai!

Today I am not afraid to shout I love China!

53 replies on “The day I open my eyes

  1. Great post Kally. My Scottish grandfather always told me to be proud of your heritage. That is something that I do and I’m very happy to see that you do too.
    China has such a long and diverse culture and it is something to be proud of. The Chinese were wearing silk and printing books when the Europeans were still living in caves and wearing bear skins. Not to mention their art and their ancient philosophies. I could go on and on but I won’t.
    This is just another fine example of your excellent writing. Keep up the great work! 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

      1. I love history and most of the Chinese people that I’ve met over the years have been wonderful people. Especially one blogger of Chinese descent who is super fantastic. 😆

        Liked by 1 person

          1. It’s an honor having you as my friend. Great friendships are pretty rare nowadays and even more so, online. So I treasure this special friendship very much.


  2. China is the most populated country and with hard working people they have already proved as one of the biggest economy. Yes with the size comes certain shortcomings too. Besides being a communist country they are open to new ideas and there is hardly any international
    Market which is doing without the Chinese goods DNA matters Kally

    Liked by 5 people

    1. I think the key ingredient in China is not about how hardworking they are but also how crafty and clever they are too. Look at all the products that they can instantly copied to perfection and yet at a ridiculously low cost. I am so looking forward to see how the foreign trade unfolds now that their President Xi has announced to welcome foreign trades with open arms.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yea Kally I have not yest visited China but whatever heard the Chinese are crafty and don’t waste time in formalities They make any thing and everything provide you show them dollars.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Before I ever met anyone Chinese, I thought they all knew Kung Fu and did a lot of things I saw in movies. When I finally got Chinese friends, I saw how silly it was to ever believe anything from TV. I dated a Chinese girl and she was really smart. She’s mainly the one who educated me about Chinese culture. Once I learned the truth, it took the mystery away and I felt comfortable with Chinese culture. It’s funny how preconceptions work though because my positive experience with her has me categorizing again. Now I expect all Chinese to be friendly, intelligent, and easy to talk to. I can understand what you went though. Preconceptions are not good and hard to break the habit. It’s best to have an open mind I’m glad you had a great experience.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. True words from someone who went through the same experience that I did! This is precisely how I felt and I am so ashamed that I have let all those years gone by prejudiced against them. A good learning lesson too, I learned from my mistake and never form judgement so quickly and based on hearsay ever again. It must have been an eye opening experience to experience a culture so much different from yours.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. we often hear many things (good and bad) about the unseen. Thank GOD opinions are personal and liable to change . For a person with positive outlook the outcome is positive always…It’s all in the mind. Obviously few things look awkward when we are not habitual of seeing them around us but then I would like to say, “If you find something not up to the mark…think, it to be on right path, you have something to look forward to; to progress to reach the top one day. If something is already at it’s best…there’s only one way i.e. downwards” What is it that I am saying? I don’t know but China is handling the largest population of the world and It might have its down side but the bright side is difficult to be ignored.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank God, I managed to change my opinions about china quickly and positively. I wouldn’t want to live in a world where my vision is clouded. I know my vision is probably still clouded in some certain sense but to have it clearer, makes the world brighter and less uglier.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I had many Chinese friends back when I was studying overseas. They were so nice to me was especially when I was learning basic Chinese and I was stuck one some homework. They did help me tirelessly.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. My experience is quite the opposite. I started off being neutral and I tend to brush off negative reports, choosing to believe that those are one-off incidents that have been blown out of proportion. In fact, it is not my nature to be cynical and stereotype. However, after my regular work trips in China, and staying several months each time, I realize that those “rumors” are so true and just tip of an iceberg. Initially, I was quite disgusted with their uncivilized behaviors but I soon learn to embrace them. It’s their country and they don’t have to live to my expectations. I’m now used to seeing people spitting in unthinkable places such as elevators, buses and even on the office floor right beside their working desk! I have seen a mother instructing her toddler to pee into a bin inside Walmart. And an adult woman urinating beside a city road. It’s more of an amusement than disgust now. Maybe Shanghai is different. My experience is in Shenzhen and Beijing only but I will have to believe what I see 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I guess all the big cities are the same. My acceptance came from understanding where all these derived from. My China friends explained that most acts like this are brought down from Tier 2 or Tier 3 provinces where most of their parents are farmers and their parent’s parents are farmers. Coming out to big cities are their only way to make a living for themselves and their families as the government are paving away their farms to make way for urban jungle. With almost zero education and kids throw out as farmhands as young as 5, I could understand their behavior. Understanding does not equals to liking it. But it makes more sense for me to accept it.

      Liked by 2 people

  7. Hi Kally! I came to visit :). I love this post… it’s kind of similar to the prejudice we face here in Africa particularly due to ignorance and the mass media spreading false or biased information. Blog posts like these help to educate people and open more hearts and eyes. This is great:-) I’m glad I checked it out

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much! I’m glad that you came by too!! You now know that you are not alone in this and over here, I faced the same thing too! Welcome to MiddleMe!


  8. I actually had a similar experience. In my country, Kenya, there is a community made up of people from Somalia and other Cushites in the region. They are really close knit, and you hear the worst things about them. In college I had the opportunity to share a room with one of them, and he was the nicest guy I have known till now. I especially miss the date palms he used to bring over.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Imagine forever living under prejudice and never give the chance to open your mind and your heart to the world. I’ll felt so ignorant and left out until I learn to open up and accept.

      Liked by 2 people

  9. This is a great post and it’s a true life lesson that anyone could learn, not just when dealing with Chinese. I come from a small rural American town, and the people there just don’t have exposure to people outside the group. So, I was raised being told all the reasons why I needed to be suspicious of everyone else. But then, like you, I went out and met those people and found out they are lovable and friendly and smart and generous and reliable – just as all people are. Travel is a good way to wreck prejudices.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hey Crystal, Welcome to MiddleMe!! Oh yes, travel is one way to wreck prejudice. But I do find sometimes travelling in a tour package probably will not give as much insight as backpacking or doing it free & easy on your own. You probably absorb and learn more about one’s culture that way. Thanks for reading the article and leaving me a comment!

      Liked by 2 people

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