Monday, April 02, 2007

Token white guy

I don't have too many opportunities in my life to be the person who is adding racial diversity to a business-related function. I did, however, have that opportunity while working in China last year. My company's China office quietly invited me to a career fair in Hangzhou, where I would ostensibly help the recruiting effort. My main qualification, as is turns out, was my undeniably Caucasian appearance, which apparently lends a certain international credibility to a Chinese company's operations.

Now I'm considering changing careers to be a professional Caucasian. Consider this story I found today in my daily email from, of all places.

Last night I ran into a friend who had just returned from living in China for three years. He taught English and mostly stuck to Beijing, but he said he found another job that allowed him to travel a bit even if it didn't pay too much money. Chinese companies would pay him to sit in on meetings. It wasn't for his advice or his mediating skills, they brought him in so their company would look more international when they had meetings with other companies. It was a pretty good gig, he said he only had to talk once, but it was a ten minute spot in front of 600 people while pretending he was the designer of some project. Apparently national media was there and the whole thing was pretty stressful. The whole thing sounds like an 80s movie I would watch on a Sunday afternoon.
I'm highly qualified for that job. In fact, I can't think of anyone who is more clearly Caucasion than myself. Time for a new career?

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