Friday, November 26, 2010

The First Seven: 2

Day Two
Second day was interesting. The majority of it was made up of me going with Jerry and JD to lunch, and then going shopping after that.

We went downtown to one of the many mall/shopping plazas in Qingdao. I seriously never imagined there would be SO many high end shopping plazas in Qingdao. I now live within just a couple blocks of stores like Prada, Gucci, Porsche, Louis Vuitton, and others of the same kind. These of course are mixed with a plethora of every other kind of store and shopping opportunity, all the way down to street vendors who lay their goods on the sidewalk. After getting some fresh roasted coffee from a sequestered little place that Jerry knew we ate at a restaurant in the mall. The food was pretty good, not as good as the first day. The talk was the most interesting part.

The conversation found us talking about what being a Christian in China looks like, how we define ourselves, if the company is a BAM, and the vision for how the company might grow and impact the community. Overall, they are all about people, through and through. They want to improve people's lives, specifically be improving their work lives and changing the way they encounter other cultures. And they want to redeem people's view of work (yes, even Christians), so that they see it as something is beautiful and necessary and God glorifying. Right now they are trying to push into the hotel market, for double tree and Hilton. They want to provide cross-cultural and language training to hotel staff here in Qingdao, hopefully converting that contract into a contract for hilton hotels area wide, china wide, even asia wide and beyond. They also want to provide training to local chinese Christians. If business expands like they want it to, they will eventually need people to run local offices in the Middle east and Africa. This would be a prime opportunity for sending a local chinese who has been trained here in Qingdao to that post. What a great way for Christians to mobilize! I really like the plan, their earnestness to help the community, and their holistic vision for how every part of what they do is aimed at bringing the kingdom (my words not theirs).

After that, it was high time I got some essentials for my apartment. Though there is a Walmart in Qingdao, it is not near Jin Hai, so we went to one of the foreign Walmart dopplegangers: Carrefour is a French store chain, and boy was going there an experience. It was definitely the most shocking cultural experience yet. I can't really put my finger on why. I mean it was huge for one. Three stories. I think largely though, it was because I was very aware of the fact that without JD I would be utterly lost. Whenever I am out and about, Jerry/JD/Flight serve as my life support, my floating device to keep from drowning. In Carrefour that day I felt the cold water of a strange cultural ocean crash over my head in colossal waves and seep through my clothes as I coughed and sputtered, clinging to support. I didn't look it, but I felt it. The decision making was what made it so bad I think. I am bad enough in a strange store back home. I want to be able to make decisions based upon data and experience, neither of which could I do in Carrefour. I can't read packages, I don't know what the products even ARE most of the time, let alone what brand they are, nor if that brand is good. I see myself standing in front of a massive wall of incomprehensible choices, my face blank, my mouth open, and my eyes hollow. All of that is hyperbole of course, but I am afraid I can't even give you a tingle of the experience without it.

~J.L. Smith


  1. Ok, I feel a panic attack coming on. Jeremy, I admire your courage.

  2. Walmart? oh man, why is it China can get wallyworld and Japan can't? we do have a 50% Walmart-owned store called Seiyu but somehow it just isn't the same. How do you pronounce Quindao? 中国語を勉強している?

  3. Well, to be fair, the Walmart here doesn't really feel like Walmart either. I find it ironic that you live in Japan and pine for a Walmart, while I live in China, which has a Walmart, but do most of my shopping at Jusco-- a Japanese owned store!