When running our three day Appreciative Inquiry workshop for Qingdao Amerasian International school recently, Sue and I learned two words we constantly repeated during our five day stay in China:
- Ni Hao (knee how) meaning hello
- Xie xie (sheah sher) meaning thank you
I thought it would be appropriate to drop my normal “G’day” greeting – though I did use it when we were introduced on the first day. As we had an international audience made up of people from the USA, UK, Australia, Canada, Trinidad and China I covered myself by saying “Ni Hao … Hi … G’day“.
Once we learned the Chinese word for thank you – Xie xie – we found we were using it often because we experienced so many acts of kindness during our stay in Qingdao.
One of those occasions occurred on the last night of our stay in Qingdao. Lily, one of our hosts, provided us with free tickets to the 2012 International Beer Festival, which was being held in Qingdao that week. So off we went to relax after three very energetic days of workshops.
As we walked around the grounds of the festival we noticed we were the only Westerners in the huge crowd of friendly Chinese people. Two young people, probably aged in their late teens or early twenties, actually walked up to us and excitedly said, ‘Hello, hello, welcome, welcome. We are pleased to meet you!‘. We even got a hug from them.
Perhaps they were excited to be practicing the English they had learned. I don’t know – but their greeting was a Xie xie I’ve rarely experienced from strangers in a foreign land before.
When I think about it, words can never truly express the positive feelings we experienced during our adventure in Qingdao.
All I can really say is “Ni Hao and Xie xie, Qingdao!”