Friday, January 16, 2009
Celebrating the Past Year
Just before people rush home for the Spring Festival or Chinese New Year, companies hold their year-end parties.
These aren't just wine and dine fests, but can also be an opportunity for employers to openly praise their staff, and for employees to show off their hidden talents.
Today after lunch my colleagues and I filed into a large but stuffy conference room, where for the next three-and-a-half hours we discovered much more about each other and our bosses.
First our president gave a 45-minute speech, outlining our achievements and plans for this year. The power point presentation seemed to go on forever, outlining things point by point.
And then he finally said "Happy Niu (Ox) Year," and we all clapped enthusiastically.
Then various departments put on skits -- and many of them chose news-related themes.
A few poked fun at the powered milk commercials, but many seemed to like recreating the scene of the guy throwing his shoes at President George W. Bush.
One couple showed off their sexy salsa dance moves, while one introverted young man who started working with us about half a year ago broke his silence with an energetic taijiquan routine.
The best was a young woman who emulated the character of President Hu Jintao, talking with the same kind of language and mannerisms that were hilarious, from his hand clapping to his one-liners and she did it all with a straight face even though we were all rolling in our seats.
Lucky draws were also made periodically and I scored a small suitcase along with four others. The next batch of winners got electric slow cookers, and then three lucky winners got domestic-made mobile phones.
Awards were also handed out.
And yours truly was recognized as one of 12 outstanding employees for 2008.
We each got a certificate and a bonus of 3,000RMB ($438.73).
But it wasn't management who chose us, but our peers who nominated us. And apparently more than one person had put my name forward, the first foreigner in the company to receive the award.
It was such a wonderful validation to be recognized in this way, and made me feel like I have, finally, made some difference in my workplace and with my colleagues.
I haven't just come to Beijing to witness the changes before and after the Olympics; I have also come here to help others.
And I have become a better person for it.