Isn't It Good to Speak a Foreign Language?
"You really are a lucky dog. "
Many peole assume that admission into the Institute of Foreign Trade means not only a farewell to "unemployment", but also a hearty handshake with affluence. They say, and I quote, "As soon as you graduate, you will have a fair chance to go abroad. You may fly round the world, see exciting things and exotic places and feel as happy as a lark and as proud as a peacock. "
I didn't know what to.think when I first came to this institute. Happy? Yes , happy that I had been admitted by this splendid institute of higher learning. I started to dream about the many things I had so excitedly heard from those who like to dream. I fancied myself posted to one of our commercial offices overseas, working in carpeted offices with air-conditioning, and delightful social activities and parties in the evenings. "What would you like, tea or coffee?" I would answer with a nod, "Brazilian coffee with Danish milk please. " And trying to make conversation, I would say, "What lovely Mediterranean weather we are having!"
Sometimes, however, I felt a bit uneasy. Comfort is not the only thing in life, you know. I do care about what people may think of me, particularly those "scholarly" people who might turn up their noses at the mere mention of the word "trade" and frown at me. taking me for a little money-grubbing, vulgar merchant.
Well. a year at this institute has taught me a great many things.
First, it is not at all easy to be trained for the foreign trade service. Like the students of all other institutes, you must work hard , be straight in all your dealings , staunchly patriotic , loyal and 100% reliable. You must get a good command of two foreign languages and Chiiiese , and try in every way to broaden the range and scope of your knowledge, which you may have to draw upon in your future work - history, geography, culture and so on and so forth.
Let me cite one or two examples to show how important it is to know the customs and culture of different countries.
Once , one of our corporations wanted to sell washing machines to Arab countries. In an advertisement to promote sales, strategy demands diagrams instead of written instructions. Dirty clothes went into the machine in the first diagram, a thorough washing was illustrated in the third. Simple and clear. But the result was disastrous. Arabic is written from right to left. How can this corporation expect to promote sales with dirty clothes as a reault of the new machine?
Another example concerns trade-marks. One of the best batteries produced in China is the "White Elephant" battery. In English, however, "White Elephant" means an object that is useless, overpriced and utterly undesirable. Do you think English -speaking people would be inclined to make a large purchase of this "White Elephant"?
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