Cultural Keys’ Hopes for the Year of The Rabbit

January 21st 2023 marked the start of a new Chinese zodiac year, that of the rabbit. A lot of people have made predictions for what the Year of the Rabbit  will bring. In this post, Cultural Keys founder AJ Donnelly makes no predictions, shares no expectations, but simply shares what he personally hopes 2023 will bring.
Read on, and let us know in the comments if you agree!

When recently discussing the idea of holding more community events centred around Chinese culture, I was told by a prominent member of the Beijing expat business community that it wasn’t their job to promote Chinese culture, regardless of the benefits to themselves, their community or China as a whole. That sentiment saddened me, and it’s something I commonly hear, though usually it’s how people can’t change their busy schedules to lend their time, resources or even just voices, to ‘something bigger’.
“Something bigger”? How can promoting Chinese cultural exchange and experiences be anything bigger than simply a fun afternoon?
In many countries around the world (and especially here in China), we can never be sure what will happen from one day to the next. Politicians, business leaders and individuals are taking actions that are seen across, and affect, the whole world in unprecedented ways. As a result, the world is at (and has been for some time now) a crossroads, or perhaps many crossroads.  Which way we go next (as individuals, companies, socio-economic groups, nations and more), will be influenced by many factors, including economics, national borders, personal beliefs, political bias and more. At the centre of many of these intermingled and diverging paths is China, and which path is ultimately taken in many cases will be influenced by China, to a greater or lesser degree.
In an ideal world, the people who influence the choices that lead our world one way or another would do so in full knowledge of all the facts, completely aware of all subtleties, history and culture that has placed China where it is now, without any personal bias or misinformation that might make otherwise simple choices or negotiations or indeed any level of interaction smoother and possibly more productive.
Unfortunately, right now, we don’t live in that world.
I personally believe that individuals, be they business leaders, normal citizens or even tourists, in our own small way, can help promote an interest in and understanding of China, through hands-on experiences, by sharing information through presentations and discussions, or simply by making cultural news and content about China more easily available. And I believe that – aside from just promoting dialogue and understanding – knowing more about China, Chinese culture and everyday life here, will be of benefit to the world (as I have mentioned before).
As an entrepreneur and someone who has called China their home for over twenty years, I truly hope that this is something everyone – especially those who live in China and have the ability to share their own truths to help people around the world separate fact from fiction – would like to be a part of.
I am always saddened when I read in anonymous social media posts that a person isn’t happy living in China. However, I am always uplifted when I see growing numbers of people, both in business emails to Cultural Keys and on social media, writing about how much they are looking forward to coming to China, whether for the first time or returning after a long absence. It’s through these kinds of people that I hope we can share more about the life and culture here, and help more people to understand China better by learning more about the country from the roots up. 

As a group, as a community, I hope we can find ways to promote China to a wider global audience, both businesses and politicians, schools and the general public. There are many initiatives that those of us who know China the best can get involved with, and I truly believe it would be beneficial for everyone. Anything that helps people see beyond the headlines and learn more about Chinese history, culture and the people.
For example, in a recent statement, the British Chamber of Commerce (of which Cultural Keys is a member) said that amongst other things in 2023, that they were committed to “reconnecting and recalibrating our perspectives” and “resuming cultural and educational exchange”. That’s fantastic and shows they want to help raise awareness and understanding of China and Chinese culture both amongst their members and the wider British audience. You can find out more and follow up with the British Chamber to see how they are fulfilling that commitment to cultural exchange here, or connect with your own Chamber of Commerce and see if they have any similar plans for this year. 
If you’re not a business person, there are still plenty of ways to get involved and learn more about China. Companies like The Hutong, Black Sesame Kitchen, Our Beijing and Beijing Postcards often run fun, interesting and engaging events of all types aimed at helping people understand more about China, both in the modern world and throughout history. There is definitely something for everyone.
So, what do I hope to see in the Year of the Rabbit? From a business point of view,  I hope we can see a shift away from only thinking about “outside interests in China” and move towards “outside interest in China”.  From a more personal perspective, I hope more people will dedicate at least a small amount of time and resources to learning more about China and going beyond the headlines, beyond the latest trending videos to find out about China’s history, culture and people, by getting to know and experiencing those things for themselves.
Do I hope people might use Cultural Keys to do some of those things? Of course, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t. But at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how people choose to learn, as long as they do something to know China better, and share that information with others, because that’s what will really benefit everyone long term. Simply put, if we have the potential to make a difference, regardless of any potential benefit to ourselves, then we should, simply because it’s the right thing to do. And I sincerely hope that, in the Year of the Rabbit, more people will share in that sentiment too.

What are your hopes for the coming year? Do you agree with AJ’s opinion, or have a totally different perspective? Let us know in the comments below. We would love to hear your thoughts and insights! 

Photo Credits
– Cultural Keys

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    Cultural Keys helps you access, understand and enjoy life in China through traditional Chinese culture. Click here to read more about Cultural Keys and what we can do for you, your school, company or group to help you get more out of your time in China!

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