“Since when, usherette become an indispensable part of meetings in China?” New Weekly posted the question in its official weibo on the “hell training” of usherettes for the up-coming Central China Expo to be held at Taiyuan City, Shanxi Province.
Like any other international ceremonies and meetings host in China, the Central China Expo is considered to be a big window for guests from around the world to embrace Chinese culture. Thus, usherettes aka “Miss Politeness” “Greeting Girls” have to be carefully selected and go through so-called hell training just to be eligible for receiving our leaders and guests.
(Usherettes training for the 2009 National Sports Meeting)
“nín hǎo, qǐng gēn wǒ lái (Hello, please follow me)” One of the most basic lines usherettes have to repeatedly practice as they bend 45 degree over while reaching out their right arms and wearing a standardized heartfelt smile – showing 8 teeth. In order to obtain the perfect manners and bearings, their training routine often includes ballet and folk dancing for overall posture, standing on heels with books on head for body stability, biting chopsticks for heartfelt smile, and knee binding or paper clasping for straight and close legs etc.
These young girls, mostly between the age of 17-22, spend more than 8 hours a day practicing standing elegantly, smiling and greeting, to best represent the image of the meeting/city and to impress the guests and the leaders. But except for our Chinese leaders as they have been used to our Chinese meeting etiquettes, can these efforts and their robotic beauty be appreciate by foreign guests?
I googled foreigners’ perception on this matter, and found this translated post where a foreigner named Alexander Brenner talked about his confusion on Chinese way of showing hospitality.
(Translated back to English)“Every time I see these omnipresent usherettes, I can’t help but think that isn’t this kind of disrespect to use these young ladies as displaying vases and make them stand and applaud to welcome guests (mostly males)? And isn’t it kind of wasting? Wouldn’t it be better for these females to do works that can generate actual benefits? Or can China maybe consider making regulations requiring the host to provide chairs and other learning materials so that they can sit down and do something meaningful when there is no guest coming? In short, this token of hospitality doesn’t work on someone like me who grow up in western culture, it actually has negative effects.”
On weibo, many netizens also expressed their disapproval on the obsession of perfecting usherettes. Selected from over 2500 comments on the New Weekly’s weibo entry:
@八运会：Chinese always like to exert ulmost effort on meaningless “face project”.
@常晅: The reason for bringing trivial stuffs into full play is that you get no saying at other places, your energy can only be used to make a fuss about every little things.
@小桃姑娘: Because this is the easiest part and requires no brain.
@大望：In fact, what attendees really care about is whether they can solve problems instead of how straight their can stand.
@petiteloulou : Using robots is more convenient!
So it is just another token of Chinese hospitality, or a perfect example of our obsession about “face” and formalism?
Other photos from the usherette training for the 6th Central China Expo.
(Usherettes for 2011 Guangzhou Asian Games)