Sunday, May 30, 2010

A Culture of Gift Giving

We arrived in Beijing late last night, and at Noon there’s a to do at the university. I’ve wrapped a bunch of gifts for our Chinese hosts (above). It’s best to leave them unwrapped ‘til you get here, because Homeland Security unwraps them if they go through your suitcase when they’re looking for bombs.

The Chinese are always giving gifts to their families, their colleagues, their guests and their friends, and it’s only polite to reciprocate. In international friendships, items representing American culture are especially appreciated, so I crammed my suitcase with knickknacks, stuffed animals, ETSU paraphernalia, and miscellaneous dust catchers. As a result my suitcase was very heavy, and Homeland Security inspected it. However, the airline did not consider it overweight, which was fortunate— they now charge a hundred fifty bucks for an overweight suitcase. It made a big difference that I had all of my books on the Kindle.

Finding gifts items that weren’t made in China was a challenge, and some of the stuff I bought was actually manufactured in here. I’m told the Chinese understand if some of the stuff representing America was actually made in China. A sign of the times.

Below: The gifts I brought. Maybe I won’t run out this time.

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