'Jessica, are you going to be on time today?' my Ch.inese boss Helen asked me when I answered the phone this morning at 8am.
'Um, yes, I am planning on it,' I said. Mentally checking to make sure that our meeting time truly was at 1:30pm and that I wasn't supposed to be there at 8am.
'Ok, see you then!' she chirped before hanging up.
Weird. I thought, and then dove head first into my morning of phone calls with my American co-workers.
Today I felt the pressure of professionalism. And wondered yet again how I got these roles and when I will feel ready for them. (Though I have the hypothesis that no one ever feels completely competent...we're all just good pretenders...)
One hour I was discussing logistics and navigating the ego mindfield of working with all middle aged males, the next hour I was sitting in a conference room in a children's hospital with some of the best physicians in Chi.na interviewing doctors for the opportunity to undergo a mentorship in California or Seattle.
For one short moment I disengaged from my "professional Jessica" self and let out a half-giggle. What is my life? How did this happen?
This afternoon we (me, the president of the hospital, and the director of something), interviewed 24 candidates for one of two partnerships at Seattle Children's Hospital or Loma Linda Hospital in So Cal. Every native Chin.ese person you meet who is going through overseas study or work programs has gone through an interview/testing process such as this one. I like being on this side. I think it will make me qualified to work on the "other side" in the future.
I know that Dr. Luo spent his national day with his wife and 6 year old son memorizing his self-introduction. I know that Nurse Yun's parents don't think she should go abroad because she is not married and "will not be respected." I know that Dr. Wei's wife lives in another city anyways, so he doesn't care about being away from his family for two months. I know that in interviews in Ch.ina questions about your marital status, religion, politics, health, and if you have a child, can and will be asked and the answers will be used for or against you. I know that these interviews are necessary and that my opinion matters to the board, but that ultimately the people who are chosen are in good favor with the administration - regardless of how they perform.
It's a different world here. And today I was "in charge" of the interviews for this year's crop of hopeful doctors.
A few weeks ago I gave a lesson at the hospital on interviewing. I told the students that in America, their "soft skills" matter just as much as their medical talents. I told them that their ability to get along, to survive another culture, to try new things and be open to differences would determine whether they were successful in America - nut just how many cardio surgeries they can perform in a month.
Today I not only got a good glimpse at the soft skills of these doctors but also received another culture lesson.
Here are some snippets of the interviews:
I asked a nurse who has been to America before what city was her favorite when she traveled the east. She replied, "Washington DC! It is the cultural center of the America! And there are so many parking lots! And the museums are free!"
I asked a nurse how her colleagues would describe her and she answered, "so small and softly."
I asked another nurse how her colleagues would describe her and she answered, "fat."
I asked most of the doctors why I should choose them and not the other candidates. This is a difficult question for Chin.ese to answer because of the conforming nature of their education and society. Some answers I received were, "I am just a common man." "I cannot say I am different or better than the others." "I have nothing special only hard working."
When I asked them what they thought would be the biggest challenge of living in America, 22 out of 24 replied, "the food." One replied, "Medical terminology English," and one replied, "Nothing."
Good times. Good times. I love my doctors.
After a few hours of interviews, I gave my opinions, we discussed it all in Chi.nese, and then I posed with my ladies for a photo op...
The hospital is near and dear to me. I don't know exactly what goes on in the bureaucracy of that place, but I am happy to be a small slice of the doctor's English and inter-cultural education. And they teach me by letting me observe it all first hand.
There's no education like it.
|Boss Helen, Crazy teacher, Big Boss Annie|
|View from the 15th floor.|
Tomorrow is another "professional" day.
walk slow. xoxo.