Lessons from China:A Cultural Education Through Innocent Eyes Paperback – April 7, 2014
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
About the Author
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
Imagine my surprise when I found myself engaged in “Lessons From China” by Beau Sides, a fascinating tale of a “stranger in a strange land”. The heroine, Jan, is a young, very American woman, venturing to China for a teaching position in a somewhat remote area. Her journey is a consistent flow of discovery, as she learns how to navigate, negotiate, and eventually thrive in a foreign land. The tale is told in direct and clear narrative, so we learn as she learns, with the benefit of knowing her inside thoughts as well as her outside actions.
Some of her experiences are humorous, others are slightly unsettling, and a few made me squirm in my seat. I found myself trying to imagine how I might react to some of the physical and psychological challenges Jan encountered, which was extremely valuable. I am not a seasoned traveler, although I have been to several foreign countries. I like my routines, my comfort, and my familiarity with my environment.
Some important lessons I gleaned from this valuable little book …
Real growth comes when you are the minority …
Stepping off a plane into a world where you do not understand the language or customs, or even look like everyone else is a real opportunity … if you take advantage of it and approach the new and unknown with an open mind and a seeking heart.
Culture teaches us to pay attention and give respect …
Those who come from an individualistic culture, such as Jan and I, value rugged individualism, demand our privacy and space, and generally think in terms of relying ourselves to solve our problems and make our way. Only when we see how a more communal culture works, in terms of personal, professional, organizational, and societal behavior, do we start to realize that maybe other ways of getting along exist and are available to us.
Leadership lessons come from growth …
This is not a leadership book, but like all well-written and useful books, it has leadership lessons to teach us, if we just pay attention. Jan marvels at the differences that she can easily see in the Chinese cultures (note: more than one, just like the United States) she encounters during her travels and her tenure in China. She allows herself to experience change and to release her hold on self-sufficiency enough to accept and even ask for help when appropriate. She learns to learn that different is not right or wrong in itself.
WHEN NEXT I TRAVEL TO ANOTHER LAND OR EVEN TO VISIT A NEW ORGANIZATION, I WILL REVISIT THIS TRAVELOGUE AND TRY TO REABSORB THE LESSONS, WHICH WORK WELL WHETHER YOU ARE ON YOUR WAY TO CHINA OR JUST ACROSS TOWN.
Putting on my traveling clothes in the Heartland ….
The tone is wide-eyed and wonder-full with a dash of introspection.
I have not yet traveled to China so I cannot vouch for the accuracy of the information presented through the narrative, but it rings true (and given the author's extensive experience I have no reason to doubt it). In fact, I can definitely say that I have a much better idea of what to expect if I were to travel in a region like the one described in this story.
If you're reading this review, you will avoid the one difficulty I had with this book. Namely, I dove right in without reading anything other than the title, the author's name, and the forward. I experienced some confusion as the narrator introduced herself as Jan Cross, rather than as the author, Beau Sides.
I had expected a first person account of experiences and lessons learned and it took me a few minutes of flipping back and forth before I understood I was reading a story, not a first-person journal. Of course, if I'd read the book's description, I would have avoided this particular difficulty.
All told, Lessons from China provides readers unfamiliar with China an enlightening look at a slice of that immense and ancient land and people as well as concrete tips on how to navigate business relationships in a foreign culture.
David Dye, author of The Seven Things Your Team Needs to Hear You Say
The plot describes a young teacher's experience in graduating college, and moving from Mississippi to China to teach at university for a year. She learns about the culture, and about herself. Along the way, she meets her co-workers, both native Chinese and expatriates like herself, students, and even a few people from the town.
The plot, in fact, is immaterial – the real purpose of the book is to provide information about what foreigners might expect to deal with during a non-tourist visit to China. Dealing with customs, the government, and preconceived notions can – no, WILL – be a challenge, and the book attempts to guide those about to go through the process by showing them what happened to a fictitious person in the same situation (and, we must assume, to the author during his first visit.)
My one complaint, and this is probably not the author's fault: It is very difficult to discover that this is a fictionalized account. I can't find anything on the front or back cover that reflects this fact. Only by noticing in the advertising blurb that the main character is not named “Beau” (or catching on in the first chapter or two), do you realize it's not a blow-by-blow account of the author's adventures. (Although it is obviously adapted from real-life experiences.) It doesn't lessen the quality of the work, but I would hope that the promo people would be more careful about that in future editions / works.
Rating: 4.5 stars, rounded up to 5 stars
DISCLOSURE: I won this book in an online contest. An honest review was requested but not part of the conditions.