To those who read this blog, it may come as a surprise that I am presently enrolled in Chinese language classes. Although I often write about Tibet, and experiences there, I believe that in order to understand a situation completely, one must be able to fully observe the opinions and lives of all those involved in any given situation. Thus, in my scholastic examination of the impact of tourism in Tibet I should be able to examine and observe both the Tibetan and the Chinese points-of-view vis-a-vis the cultural implications of increasing tourism in the TAR.
Any scholar of Asian tourism can tell you one thing, and that is the opening up of travel restrictions in the Chinese mainland has opened the world to the largest population of tourists: the Chinese. Even if China should, for some reason, close its borders, there can be a fully-functioning and supportive tourist culture within its own borders. Thus, in order to best understand those population dynamics, and the implications, I have decided that it is imperative that I understand the Han dialect. I also have been always intrigued and fascinated by the Chinese culture, and given its rise as an economic power, believe that there is no foolishness in better understanding the language. I also intend to continue my studies of Tibetan, but with the little bit of language I took I found it infinitely more difficult than Mandarin! So I am also starting with what I believe to be the simpler of the two just to get back in the practice of studying a language. I digress...
As part of my language course, my professor has asked us to watch and also review the movie "和你在一起 (Together)." It is, to begin, an incredibly heartwarming, coming of age story that details the relationship between a father, Liu Cheng, and his son, Liu Xiaochun. Liu Xiaochun is a gifted violin prodigy, who is selected for a chance to win a scholarship to study his art in Beijing. The two set out to the city, where Liu Xiaochun performs brilliantly. However, due to his background (i.e. lack of bribe money) he is not offered the scholarship. Nevertheless, Liu Cheng convinces a professor at the Conservatory, Jiang Laoshi, to accept his son as a student. The remainder of the movie follows the father and son as they realize the reality of living in a large city where, despite the belief of the world that all have equal access to life's successes, being from the country proves a difficult obstacle to overcome. Their relationship is what drives the movie, especially the increasing tension as Xiaochun's experiences increased disdain for his poor background, while his father does every job possible to ensure his son's success.
What struck me most about the movie was the fact that the director did not hide at all the realities of life in one of China's big cities, and the inherent class struggles that can ensue. Liu Cheng and Liu Xiaochun live in an area of town that is poor, full of folks of working class - including a young escort, Lili, who befriends Liu Xiaochun. The living conditions they endure are not glamorous, and depicted in a very real light. What strikes me most is that at some point, Liu Xiaochun's talent catch the attention of *the* eminent professor of violin, Yu Laoshi, who later takes Xiaochun under his tutelage. Yu Laoshi's house is modern and clean, spacious. He takes in Liu Xiaochun who beings to see a different style of life - which is all possible given his talent. He is finally faced with a choice: that to have the life he imagined for, if he gives up his family (who has worked so hard to get him to where he is) - but at the risk of losing the person who he is... or to go home.
My only dislike in the move was that the development of the characters seemed a bit chliched - Liu Cheng while from the country also has a very Confucian attitude, kotowing (literally) to persons who are esteemed above his station; Liu Xiaochun displays the traits of any young spoiled person, while Lili (the ONLY female character in the movie), definitely represents the dragon-lady characteristic quite common in movies. She is not demure, intense, driven to anger - and rarely gentle or seeming very kind. I honestly wish there were more female characters in the movie, but I suppose it was a young boy coming of age movie. The professors are either drunk, or pompous (or both) - and seem to rest quite comfortably on the reputations they have earned in their previous lives.
However, despite any character development (or lack of) the movie was an enjoyable watch, and I think a little more realistic view of what it takes to become successful in any field in China. It shows the wide range of affluence - and the privileges that affluence affords, and yet still illustrates that despite "having it all," there is still much in life to be desired. A highly suggested watch - especially if you just want to be entertained. Special bonus is the classical music soundtrack that weaves its way throughout the movie.
Journeying into the business world... one undiscovered culture at a time
Welcome to [Per]Suit of Anthropology, a blog dedicated to the exploration of modern business trends and perspectives from the view of anthropologist, with a special emphasis on cultural understandings of work-life balance and disability rights in the workplace. This blog is a way for me to connect two sides of my professional self that I see in constant dialogue. Though the business world and the anthropological world may not believe it - they have more in common and more to learn from one another than readily acknowledged. Topics covered include: Western business practices and the impact of those decisions on socio-cultural institutions worldwide, invisible disabilities, Ignatian spirituality, work-life balance, and some discussion of issues of tourism and its impacts on culture, and common human capital practices in private industry and government.