Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Search.

I don't even know where to begin. Sometimes I sit in my office in Seattle and wonder how it is I got here. I am good at my job and I like it, but always I'm thinking about getting back to China. I want to transfer my sales skills, people skills, knowledge of budgeting, finance, marketing and management into a job that will result in a ticket back to the Mainland. That should be easy even in a slow economy. I know factories and production facilities are closing left and right in China, but I also know that very few expatriates want to move to Chongqing. One of my professors told me that Motorola used to have a policy of keeping all expatriates in China for a five-year term. Now people are going over for two. The problem is that in two years a lot of the time an expat can't even get his or her bearings and really settle down. They end up doing that right about the time they're leaving. Unless they live in Beijing or Shanghai, where it is much easier to be an expat. Then it might only take a year and the company will get another year of solid production out of them. But people get homesick and tired of a culture as different and difficult to understand as China's. There are dips in production. Moments when they just don't care. And expats have trouble figuring out how to effectively communicate with their local subordinates and peers.

We come from a country with a history of independence, freedoms that China has never known. Our religious base is Christian and our constitution was written with the belief of equality for everyone. China's history, often, is the opposite. That doesn't mean it's wrong, just that it's not the same. Understanding the Chinese and how their subconscious is built is the foundation an expat needs to hit the ground running in China.

I'm comfortable in that arena. And I want to go to Chongqing. I want to live in one of the most polluted cities in the world, because the sight of millions of people crowded into a hot, dank, hilly river city makes me feel euphoric. Why? I think because I grew up in central Minnesota, where it's cold, grey and empty. Chongqing is a humongous city filled with farmers and simple working people. Many of them are similar to the people I grew up around, but there are millions instead of hundreds. They are open, curious, friendly and so polite and accommodating that sometimes it just flat wears you out. I love hot pot. I love spicy food. I love turning a corner and not knowing whether the shop you walked by last week will still be there or replaced by a 30-story building.

Chongqing is one of the next big cities that is going to develop into an economic center. I want to be a part of that. HP is there, Ford is there, Nokia is there, Corning is there, the list goes on and on. And I want to be a part of it.

But one invaluable thing I learned while I lived in Chongqing is that patience is an absolute necessity. I'll keep pushing from this end, looking for a road to that end.

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