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Lessons from China: A Westerner's Cultural Education (Cultural Crossroads) Paperback – April 7, 2014

4.9 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

First time author and humanitarian, Beau Sides is the president and founder of Global Partners in Life (GPiL), a nonprofit organization that helps children, adolescents, and young adults, with educational, humanitarian, and medical needs in China. Today, Global Partners in Life can celebrate over eight years of giving for the purpose of enabling young lives to prosper. Having earned the honored title of teacher as an English language instructor in some of China's universities, business, and language schools, Beau describes each opportunity to foster cultural awareness and acceptance among Chinese and Americans as unique and rewarding. After about forty trips and numerous teaching tours in this beautiful country, he considers China his second home.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 120 pages
  • Publisher: Rutledge Publishing (April 7, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0985993502
  • ISBN-13: 978-0985993504
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 6 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,895,831 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

By David M. Dye on March 23, 2014
Format: Paperback
Beau Sides gives you a first-person look at what life in rural China might look like from the perspective of a recent southern American college graduate who has traveled there to teach English.

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
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Format: Kindle Edition
The author of “Lessons from China”, Beau Sides, appears to really know his stuff. (And if you doubt it, check out the Foreward.)

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.
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Format: Kindle Edition
This book made me want to pack my bags and head out into the unknown of another culture in another place on the globe …

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.
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