A Travellerspoint blog

Sudden Absence

where did the bureaucracy go?

overcast 21 °C
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I decided a few months ago to stay in China for a third year.

Today I went to the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region Ministry of Labor offices to renew my alien worker's permit.

Last year we dropped off all of my documents (about 10 different documents are required, and must all be stamped by the appropriate authorities in the appropriate places with the appropriate signatures etc.) and went back X number of business days later to pick it up.

Today we sat there for 20 minutes, had a fun conversation with the clerk in Chinese and English, and got approved. We walked out with a renewed permit, stamp and all, in less than half an hour, without even needing to pay a fee or stand in a line. We were expecting a fee of several hundred yuan, but it was free.

The sudden absence of the infamous Chinese government bureaucracy was, at first, disturbing. But not to worry, I still need to go to three different government offices before I will legally be able to stay in China for a third year. I'm sure the bureaucracy still exists.

Posted by grmoski 01:29 Archived in China Tagged living_abroad Comments (0)

Mixed Feelings

medical privacy in the workplace

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My company is providing free medical exams to all employees this weekend. It is an annual service, paid for by each department, and completely voluntary. I took my medical exam papers down to the 9th floor where a local hospital had set up clinic for all the different tests. It was full of people waiting in long lines to take each test.

Free annual medical exams, with blood tests, EKG's and everything are a great service...but I really feel uncomfortable with the idea that my company keeps a copy of its employees' annual medical exams. I decided not to participate because I don't think my company needs or should have a copy of any of my medical records. Besides, I am required to have all the same tests done in a few weeks when I renew my work permit and get a new resident permit to stay in China for a third year.

I'm not up to date on China's anti-discrimination laws, but last I knew it was legal to discriminate based on sexual orientation. A colleague told me that it is common for an employer to require a medical exam before signing a contract with a new employee, and that they can base their hiring decisions on the results of such exams. Of course if someone has a condition or disability that prevents them from fulfilling the duties of a job then they should not be hired, but I don't know any blind people who are pursuing careers as pilots or bus drivers.

An individual's medical status affects both them and their employer, and there are pros and cons for both. Should your HR department know if you have high blood pressure or cholesterol? Should they know your HIV status or the history of cancer in your family? Where is the line between promoting a healthy workforce and medical privacy? Should your CV include your most recent EKG graphs?

Once again, the differences between China and America allow me to evaluate what I think, challenge the status quo of American culture, and consider practicality above politics.

Posted by grmoski 19:15 Archived in China Tagged living_abroad Comments (1)

"On the Road" Discussions

Exploring English with my Chinese Colleagues

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I just returned from Fangchenggang, a port city in southern Guangxi province; about 2 hours from Nanning by car. While most of the conversation is always in Chinese (because we are in China of course) sometimes my colleagues like to speak English and often have questions about certain words, or I correct their pronunciation (when I finally identify which word they are trying to say).

Beach.

The project we went there to talk about was the development of a peninsula in the South China Sea, most likely a beach resort. Beach. Then Chen Qin, knowing it is a bad word in English, says, "bitch." I tell her, "no, no, no, you shouldn't say bad words, it makes you sound stupid." Beach. Bitch. Beach. Bitch. She has a hard time telling them apart, despite my "eeeee" and "iiiii" sounds I repeat.

Beach. Botch. Batch. Butch. Bitch. I tell them they shouldn't say bad words. Of course, swear words in a foreign language never seem bad.

On the way back to Nanning Shuai Minxi is telling us about his recent trip to Spain. Out of nowhere he says "SM." He and I laugh. Chen Qin wants to know what SM is. I tell her it is sadomasochism, and that it is about people who like to feel pain. She eventually understands that most people don't like pain, then she asks me (whispering in the back seat), "is it about sex?" I tell her, "yes."

The next thing she says is something about Japanese people probably liking that. I say, "when it comes to sex, Japanese people are crazy." After a short silence, Chen Qin leans over to me and whispers "I'm natural."

I laughed so loudly, and couldn't stop for quite a while. She kept hitting me and pulling my ear after that, trying to get me to stop laughing. Maybe it was one of those you-had-to-be-there-things, but I laughed for a long time. She didn't understand why it was funny. I didn't know how to take her meaning, but could come up with several candidates, all of which I think she didn't intend.

When I retold the story to Shuai Minxi, Chen Qin said she meant to say "native" instead of "natural," but the damage was done. Keep in mind, I attended this girl's wedding last year.

Such crazy things we find ourselves talking about in the car on a business trip. So funny.

Posted by grmoski 07:47 Archived in China Tagged living_abroad Comments (0)

The Cow Awards

I won!!!!


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Because 2009 was the year of the cow someone in my company decided to give away four "cow" awards. Everyone in the company (1700+ people) were given a ballot with 5 candidates for each award. Each of the four awards was a different color. The green cow was for the best first year employee, red cow for most popular, yellow cow for the best 15+ years employee, and black cow for the most innovative.

The voting took place over 4 days with the results at the end of each day posted in the lobby. I won the red cow award by about 200 votes! I kept telling people that it is my only chance to be famous. I'd never win a popularity contest at an American company! As the only foreigner here I stick out like a sore thumb, but I'm also very friendly and practice my Chinese with people I don't know. I hope I won because I am likable and not just recognizable! I'm sure it was a little of both. Now I have a big crystaline trophy that says "red cow" prize on it in Chinese.

Posted by grmoski 08:09 Archived in China Tagged events Comments (1)

Singing and Dancing for my Company's Big Show

I even have a solo!!!


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This is the part of the festival show that I sang and danced in. We'd actually pre-recorded the singing in a studio the week before, which I was grateful for because there were so many different Chinese lyrics bouncing around in my head while I was on stage.

We are wearing tiger t-shirts because 2010 is the year of the tiger.

Posted by grmoski 08:07 Archived in China Tagged events Comments (1)

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