There’s a woman sitting in front of you and she starts telling you that something is wrong with her daughter. That’s how today’s workshop started. Somehow the whole thing irritated us…is the woman serious or is it just an act? I think that was the question we were all asking ourselves.
We were all sitting in a circle and got introduced to today’s speaker Miss Ke, when she announced that she invited a few guests. We were just supposed to listen and find out what happened. And that’s how we got into the previous described scene. A woman walked in quietly and sat down on a chair, when Miss Ke asked her to tell us about herself and her problem. The woman stared at the ground for a long time when she raised her head slowly to start talking in a very quiet and soft voice. She had the following problem:
She has a daughter who moved out to become a teacher. This meant that she had no contact for a while. One day she called her daughter to check on her well-being. But the daugther was acting very weirdly on the phone. She was worried and asked if everything was alright, but the daughter claimed that everything was okay. But she as her mother, she could feel that something was off. So what happened?
It’s time for some interviews
Our goal was to find out what happened. Therefor more people entered the room. They were all persons, connected to the daughter of the woman. We split up in small groups and we always had like ten minutes to interrogate the mother, a roommate, a coworker and the students in order to find out what happened.
– The mother just knew what she already told us. Her daughter sounded weird on the phone and it seemed like she was hiding something.
– Her roommate knew nothing. The only thing that caught the roommate’s attention was the fact that she locked herself up in the bathroom one time.
– The coworker thought that she was quiet pretty, but they just talked briefly on a work party.
– The students remembered that one time, the school’s principal asked for her while she was teaching. So the teacher had to leave the class for a moment.
After collecting all the information from everyone, exchanging information and making guesses, the daughter herself told us the story.
When she was called into the office, she had no idea why. But she always felt uncomfortable around the principal. Why? He was married, yet he would always flirt with her. When he called her, he approached and “touched” her without her permission. She felt so dirty afterwards that she locked herself in the bathroom. And she just couldn’t talk to anybody because she felt so ashamed and dirty.
Knowing what happened, we were supposed to re-enact the situation as a roleplay. Each group could show how they imagined the situation. Furthermore we should decide how the surrounding persons would react to knowing that the woman got sexually assaulted. And here we saw a big difference in our cultures. While our Chinese partners showed us, that being assaulted was the teachers own fault, the German group showed that they would help the teacher cope with the situation and even go with her to the police station in order to press charges. “So, why wouldn’t you go to the police in China?” we asked. The reason is very simple; it is because she felt ashamed. In Asia the reputation is very important and you just don’t want “to lose your face”. Because reputation and pride is everything in Asia. I can understand that too well being an Asian myself. Growing up I was always supposed to have good grades, my parents even asked me what grades my friends had so they could compare. If I had a bad grade that would be like bringing shame upon the family. Anyways, after the roleplay we discussed how the situation should be handled best. And after our Chinese partner heard how we wouldn’t judge the teacher, I think they were able to take something with them. We had shown them another way to cope with such things. And I guess it made the whole group proud. After finishing todays workshop, we took a rest in our hotel room then went outside for dinner, a small shopping tour and some sightseeing around the city =)
Three things I learned today:
1) Pride and your face are everything in Asia (saving the face)
2) If you get sexually assaulted, many will say it’s your own fault
3) It’s quiet lively on the streets at night