Remember back to 15 years ago while I was in China, I was a young fresh junior uni student, sitting in an English class room, listening to a foreign teacher giving lecture to nearly 200 Chinese students. It was a public university in a normal city in China. The teacher was a handsome young white fellow. He looked around 25 years age, comfortably intelligent and well mannered. He is obviously not coming to China to dig gold since no one would be coming to this place to teach if he/she wants to make any money. I heard salary for a foreign teacher in my uni was around $500 a month. Any job in US would make him a lot more than that.
I was excited. Didn’t see many foreign faces actually speaking English at my age. I was very curious about western culture. Reasons I have given in other posts. From a background where hierarchy was a number one rule in daily life, I honestly unconsciously felt that American people are at a more hierarchy level than we Chinese people. Look at their civilisation, look at their education, literature, science, environment …., what do we have better than them except our long history? There were three young American female teachers as well. They were cute, pretty and smart. I felt me and them are like two type of species in this universe. Although we all can talk and walk with two legs, I think in my hierarchy world, these people should be above the highest. The normal Chinese hierarchy system is like: King of China – Everyone works for him – State captain – Everyone works for him – City Captain – Everyone works for him – Village Captain and his fellows – My Ground Father – Grand Mother – Father – Mother – Younger Brother – Oldest Sister – Second Sister – Me. In this micro system in the uni, the hierarchy would be: USA teacher – Principle – Department Principle – Master Teacher – All other teachers – Class Leader – Classmate with good score – Me . This is almost like a formula we use for all our daily tasks. I have genuinely never thought there could be possibility that me be equal to those Americans. It didn’t bother me too much though. I had been living like that my whole life. I was used to it.
The USA teacher spoke very nice English with clear pronunciation and proper rhythm. I could tell he’s well educated from his speech even though I could barely understand the content of the speech. I was sitting in the middle of the crowd, listening to his nice American English, trying hard to catch what he was saying, like many other students in the class. Suddenly the crowd burst into a loud laugh. I knew he made a joke and I had no idea what the joke was, but I decided to focus so that not miss a joke again. The teacher paused a second then he continued again. “A student asked me today what’s the difference between Chinese women and American women?” He then surprisingly shook his head without answering the question directly and instead said that “maybe it’s a culture thing, but it’s not American women or Chinese women. Women are women! We say women in China or women in America, not Chinese women or American women…” It’s really funny that I forgot all the rest part of the lecture, but I remembered this sentence for 15 years. Women are women. Why we put a frame in front of a person to categorise her / him first? We are all women and we are all the same. From that day on, I realised how amazing this sentence has influenced me. I started to dare to dream big. I started to dig my potential and not give up just because I was at the bottom of the hierarchy world. This teacher gave me my biggest inspiration in my life. Later I found out that he was a church leader in the uni. Isn’t that a coincident?