Life in the office
For those who don't know since August last year when I started working full-time for AIESEC here, I have been sharing a bedroom with 3 other guys (Leon -Chinese, Peter -Slovakian and Pierre -Indian) and the appartment with 2 girls in the other bedroom (Primrose -Taiwanese and Kim -Chinese). We have a small living room with 1 double couch and 2 singles; a small kitchen including a microwave, washing machine and hob; a larger living room used as the office with 6 desks for us to work and 1 other desk for the printer and spare computer (for the students to use when they come in occasionally).
Most of the time we work in the office though often switch to the smaller living room for a break on our poor bums -we have wireless internet :-) (Which is why I cannot wait for the summer so I can sit outside again and still work for a couple of hours of battery life since it reaches into the play area outside the building. Since last month 5 of the 7 people who will replace us have been selected and the ones in China often come into the office (some are also internationals)... so they might stay over, or other students might stay over on the couch (or any spare beds if some of us are on business trips) if they come over to party or work.
It makes for an unusual working environment which might be kind of typical for developing AIESEC offices around the World and small NGOs in China, but is not typical of China by any means. (oh, we have a bathroom too -just 1, but it has a n awesome power shower and a real toilet, though still the toilet paper must go in the bin, not down the toilet). It means I have learned more about working in a cross cultural team especially since we have such different working styles and also live so closely together.. the appartment is not normally clean since it gets dirty so quickly!
I guess this leads to its problems.. sometimes professional and personal feelings can't be kept secret, or if you disagree over the decision of something, then you can't 'go home and forget about it' for example. But it also means you get to spend a lot of time with my colleagues who i know really well and get on with so well. I get to know more about their culture and different backgrounds and we feel like a very close team (although there are still, like every team, challenges in communication sometimes).
Mostly we have meetings at the end of the day or over dinner, or after dinner (or all 3 if its a long meeting!) which means we have more time to work during the daytime; but then less free-time. As my job is to develop knowledge, skills and a passion for responsible leadership and related issues, I have a team of students (1 at each University) responsible for this within their AIESEC branch. I am trying to get out the office as much as possible to meet them and support them in their work. I think this is the best and most important way of making our work more integral to AIESEC's work and how it can work better with other departments in each AIESEC branch. What does this mean?
-lots of travelling on lots of buses!
-lots of cheap meals in students canteens
-getting to know the chinese students better
-opportunities to learn chinese on the bus, or to listen to music/news shows on my IPOD
-a fantastic understanding of china's 3rd ring road and China's bus sytem. Today someone (a local, chinese student) asked me how to get from her university (Renmin) to our office, and I gave her about 4 of the 10 options that i know about!
-achieving more (hopefully!)
So that's an insight into my life. Otherwise I am busy working on programmes, resources and events: meeting people going to conferences to learn and to network and doing a few other things too (like going to Tianjin last weekend to help AIESEC there).
Random comments of the day:
1) every university intranet has a movies or music download section (very official, you have usernames and everything): with the high speed download you can download anything quickly. No need even for the fake DVDs then? Actually the intranet system only has recent movies, so it seems many students are also interested in older movies and foreign movies and buy the DVDs. So Chinese people are 'well watched' and not just Chinese or Western movies.
2) most chinese students spend lots of time on computer games, on computer intranets, bulletin boards, messenging services, proxy servers (to bypass censorship issues or to access international websites sometimes) and doing all kinds of things to their computers. It means that most students are very computer literate. I'm not sure if this is good or not. Its been proven that computer games do help with intelligence (and are motly 'team' games) and it means that the students watch many DVDs to learn about the world and are very fast typists... But then they are accessing banned content through proxies (maybe that's good?) and spending less time studying/reading and not spending any money in the local economy (anything digital is free!)