In the West we don’t expect this, but the Chinese tend to like to do everything at the last minute, hence two last minute work events this week. Yesterday we got emails during lunch time that we’d have a meeting at 4:30pm. No mention of the agenda or attendee list was provided. I went though I’d had to teach from 8 am till 4:20 pm. I thought it would include the Clark administrators since they were in town, but it was for the Chinese and native speaker teachers.
These meetings are rather funny. There’s good hospitality in the way of snacks, but the format is different. First we had no introductions so though I know some of the participants from earlier interactions no attempt was made to make sure we all know each other. The Chinese leadership doesn’t consist of anyone who’s bilingual. (Yes, you’d think the Foreign Affairs Office would consist only of bilingual personnel, though other departments wouldn’t.) So every item presented had to be translated, which is fine but time consuming. The real problem was that the translations were often vague so it wasn’t clear what we were to discuss. We were to talk about the program’s goals, but no one I sat near was exactly sure what goals we were talking about. It was also awkward as we’re all contract employees without authority to make long term goals and since we hadn’t gotten an agenda earlier, we certainly hadn’t time to consult with out director. Thus most of the agenda wasn’t appropriate for this group of people. If we had an agenda we could have gotten in touch with our director and if told to could have done some research to make a strong case for or against some of the ideas put forth.
It’s just another example of the fog that shrouds life in China.