Just got in from three glorious weeks visiting friends in China. What an incredible country full of contradictions at every corner. Pick a century going back 5,00 years and give yourself a minute and you’ll find evidence of it. Lots of new marketing is emerging as the country both prepares for foreigners visiting for the Olympics and the beginning waves of economic success that is creating new consumers.
The first few days I was in Beijing I ventured out quite a bit on my own with the help of index cards that friends had filled with Chinese characters and English for specific locations I wanted to visit. It reminded me of the cards I’ve seen some libraries using for their foreign speaking customers and made me think how nice it would be for libraries to work with their local governments to expand the cards to include basic questions one might encounter on an average day of trying to maneuver around town. When I was on the road I was continually asking people to write out in characters for things like, “Please point to the direction of the railroad station or bus station.” After three weeks of being the foreigner in a country where the people really bent over backwards to help, it was a good reminder of how the simple things can often make the greatest difference.
If you want to see some pictures, they are posted on Flickr.