Make Shanghai Citizens Smile

smiling old chinese womanHow many smiles do you see on a typical Shanghai day.

Does the 24 hours shop assistant smile at you when you buy your late night milk. Does your apartment complex guard curl his lips when you greet him in the morning.

(One of the 3 guards in our building actually always smiles and waves friendly, the other two have mastered the “You nod at me but I can stare through you anytime as you are completely non-existent to me” skill.)

In general smiling is not a standard practice but it’s about to change, at least if you can believe the China Daily.

China seems to be in the middle of a smiling deficit, but one group in Shanghai is doing what it can to turn those frowns upside down.

According to a recent online survey by Extrawhite, a maker of chewing gum, a quarter of the people in China never smile or smile less than five times a day. The survey found that only 2 per cent of Chinese people are willing to smile at strangers.

To reverse this situation, a group of 40 students from the Humanities and Communications College of Shanghai Normal University launched a team of “smiling volunteers” last month. Their technique is simple enough: they smile at people.

Triggered by a chewing gum maker….we’ll all smile in the near future when we fight our way into the subway, handle elevators that are closed in front of us, bump into cyclists that are color blind and pick up the small change from the counter when your hand is still hanging in the air to collect the money.

If you like to become a volunteer, it’s not that hard,

The only requirement is that they have sincere smiles and helping hearts, and are always ready to assist other people.

All you have to do actually is being a human being. And now go outside and just do it, SMILE.

From the Daily Prop.

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5 Responses to “Make Shanghai Citizens Smile”

  1. China Law Blog
    December 20th, 2006 22:02

    Just today, my law firm’s German/Spain lawyer told me that her European friends are always commenting on how “American” the pictures of our lawyers are on our website. I asked how they were “American,” and she said because we are smiling. I guess it’s a cultural thing.

  2. Shanghai
    December 21st, 2006 00:01

    You’re right there, it’s a cultural thing. I think Europeans, to generalize, feel that the smiles of Americans are not genuine but more marketing. Although I must say it’s more fun to look at a smiling face than a stern one.

    In China the cultural factor plays a role too I feel, especially given the recent history. When I see young Chinese and couples I see a lot more smiles though, which is a good thing.
    In the service industry in China there is still some way to go, but although related it’s another topic:)

  3. Anonymous
    December 22nd, 2006 07:30

    Make Shanghai Citizens Smile…

    Shanghai needs more smiles it seems and students will be the ones teaching the citizens….

  4. Gordon Choi
    February 8th, 2007 16:04

    About smiling… I was brought up in Hong Kong and I really rarely used to see people smiling for whatever they did… Waitering, selling magazines, selling train tickets. No smiling on their faces at all.

  5. thepudongkid
    February 11th, 2007 19:14

    I doubt they can turn Shanghai into Bangkok (where everybody smiles at strangers) overnight though. A lot of the older generation, especially those who are not very well-educated, have got quite a bit of “Shanghainese superiority complex”. I can’t possibly imagine them smiling at every other stranger they encounter.

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