I recently came across a description by a Chinese businessman of his trip to Venezuela. It seems he is an employee of the China Machinery Industry Corporation and was sent to negotiate a corporate contract. In any case I found his narrative of his three months in Venezuela to be interesting. It’s essentially a press release on the corporate website, and the actual name of the businessman is not given. I see in it elements of the Chinese culture which requires putting everything in the best possible light, and in which social harmony is the ultimate goal. I am reprinting it here:
My Life in Venezuela
The airplane just took off and the home-departing trains of thoughts engulfed me like overcast dusts. The airplane, like a giant hand, picked me up by my collar and turning around, put me down in a strange city over the other side of the Earth.
Landing in Caracas from the Air
The irregular changes of colorful clouds outside the plane over more than 20 hours and the beautiful scenery I saw in transit at Pairs could not be compared with the happy surprise I felt at the first sight of Venezuela, which could not be described just with the word of “gorgeous”. Caracas, the capital of Venezuela, is a city grown in forests and mountains. Green trees, distant mountains and the perpetually clear sky are surrounding the simple groups of buildings. Just thinking about it could calm you down and once in the city, you felt contended with the peace of mind. The road from the airport to our residence was full of colorful slogans. “Marching towards socialism!” and “Support Chavez!” were most common words bumping into your eyes, from which one could not help but feel strongly the surging emotions of Latin American people.
Life + Work = Intimate Family Members
To share your spare time together with your boss for the first time indeed made you feel somewhat uneasy. Fortunately, my colleagues had already managed to separate work from life. During work, we were dedicated and hardworking and united as one for good cooperation, and thus turning heavy pressure into joys of common struggles. In life we were forthright and unrestrained, passing good mood to everyone near you. In this intimate environment, colleagues gradually became friends and friends gradually became family members. Unconditional support and trust became the biggest motivation to drive you to grow, for each of your small progress could invite loving watches of leaders and colleagues
In work, we seemed to be fighting everyday and so it was not strange for our colleagues in China to call where we were as the “front line”. Morning always elapsed in a hurry without notice and we had to handle more than ten e-mails everyday. Telephone calls from subcontractors seemed endless. Each entry of payments had to be recorded for files and the thick contract copy was full of notes and remarks. Running here and there all the time with documents in hand, when at last you touched down on the chair, you could be dragged away at the next moment. This was the routine for everyday. It had already been noon time while you were still thinking as if the day had just started.
The negotiation seemed more like a seesaw battle, and a competition of wisdom and willpower. Both sides were so highly absorbed in their state of mind and the ashtray would be full of cigarette stubs in a while. The negotiation venue changed from the long table into the dining table and again changed back from the dining table to the long table. More than often, the battle would last until it got dark. Touching the hungry belly and looking at the revised contract filled with dotted remarks, one would feel contented in heart for at least something had been accomplished out of the hard efforts. With a piece of bread and two hands still busy on the keyboards, I was racing against time to finish the translation of the revised contract, which would be sent back to China for review. It was already dead night after the day’s work. After a quick bath, I dragged my worn-out body to bed. I was still wide awake enough not to forget to set up my alarm clock.
Together with You!
To keep in touch with the company in China was an indispensable part of our work in a foreign country. The time difference between Caracas and Beijing was exactly 12 hours. The overtime in the evening after a day’s regular work was normal routine of the day. Under such environment, to adjust and relax promptly was more than necessary to keep good working morale. Weekends were the time when everybody felt most relaxed. There were quite a few options to choose, such as watching movies, Karaoke, strolling along the streets, enjoying sumptuous meals, going to beaches or hot spring spas. It was all up to the mood of everybody. But most of time, people would feel excited to respond once there was a suggestion or a hint as what to do. Could not remember who had said something to the effect that “What matters is not what, but who.” No matter where we went, there would be joys and laughters as long as we were with our colleagues.
At twinkling of an eye, three months had passed by since we came to Venezuela. More than 1000 pictures were stored in the camera, very faithfully recording each and every smiling face and little bits of our life here. Do you need a reason to love a city? Perhaps, the answer would lie in our smiles.